Ske – Life, Death, Happiness & Stuff

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Nominated for Album of The Year 2003 in their native Iceland, the debut album from seven-piece Ske (HAPPENING), of whom the core foursome of Eiki, Frank, Gummi and Hrannar are also writers for theatre, film and commercials, carries on the tradition of eclecticism championed by the likes of Gus Gus, Sigur Ros and, of course, Björk.

Sung in English, French and Japanese and with male and female vocals, the album makes for a heady brew of frazzled beats, spacey electronics and cute melodies, occasionally elevated by washes of warm strings. The title of semi-instrumental STRANGE & DERANGED says it all, really. Only the tongue-in-cheek closer T-REX – featuring some funky guitar too – sounds a bit out of place (it sounds like Suggs fronting Chas & Dave).

Maybe Icelandic bands feel they have to sound insane to get their records released these days, but at least this is pretty entertaining, although you may struggle to remember any tunes beyond the less-than-stellar final track. It is also criminally short at just over half an hour – they may be a “pop art” band (their description) but they should be able to come up with a few more songs.

Still, points for originality and a healthy dose of foreign exoticism.

4 stars