Agnes Obel – Aventine
Imagine yourself in a small, independent movie theatre in the 1970s. It’s a horror film. Black and white. The plot has been established and various people have already died. The camera pans to the window. It’s raining. The water drops are clearly visible. They hit the pane and roll gently down. In the background, a piano patters in time with the rain. Pizzicato violins create a suspense. A cello gently saws up and down. Is that someone’s face reflected in one of the water drops? Someone behind you? You shiver… With only the minimum of orchestration and a hushed voice, Agnes Obel creates scenes of a slightly unnerving nature on her wonderful new album. On ‘Run Cried The Crawling’, there’s an eerie voice in the background and the strings make a creaky-door sound. Listen in the dark and tracks such as ‘The Curse’, ‘Words Are Dead’, and ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ will have you reaching for the light. But what’s most unsettling of all is that the sense of unease is unending. There’s no resolution. No Psycho moment. The strings never reach a crescendo. The cellos never scythe. The voice never screams. This is no Hollywood blockbuster. No Bat For Lashes. This is a European art-house project. And yet despite the unmistakably cinematic feel to the album, it never feels like a soundtrack. The mood is everything, but the melody is there too. These aren’t just scenes put to music. These are genuine songs. Not standard verse, chorus, middle-eight songs to be sure. But songs you can hum along to nevertheless. Songs that lilt, however spooky the underlying theme might be. In her native Denmark, Agnes Obel is already something of a sensation and Aventine will only increase her reputation worldwide. So go on. Turn off the light, hunker down, and get ready to be thrilled.