Classy. Real classy. So classy in fact that these dour,
sophisticated Scandinavians are the only band Crud has
known dress this overrated basement up anywhere near
the level it presumes for itself, with all those cheesy
framed pics of blues and jazz greats jizzed up the walls.
They drape the place in virtual velvet and make like
illustrious permanent fixtures. Being bluesmen themselves,
to some extent (albeit of the stormy, Doors-y, low-light
type), you think they should probably pin a Polaroid
over the door on their way out so a little piece of
them remains here too. They’re majestic, like a tinted
display-case of dark-stoned jewellery with a firm matt
finish. We’re not used to this sort of treatment round
They’ve been doing this for a number of years now.
But the hallmarks of quality they exhibit these days
can only have come, you presume, with the nurturing
properties of time. The recently released UK version
of ‘Grit’, while sounding pretty faithful to everything
that had come before it (and check out their ‘Industrial
Silence’ album, there has already been some truly elegant
stuff), simultaneously eclipsed it all.
Their bold spots got bolder, the lonely spaced-out
monologues more haunting. And tonight there is no denying
that even through choices like the stark, punishing
and climactic ‘Bloodshot Adult Commitment’ and the Iggy-doling-out-a-makeover-for-REM
ferocity of ‘Ready’ they remain spellbinding.
Take it to pieces, you can see how it all works. There
are uncomplicated, lucid guitar lines from the very
comfortable and stately looking Robert Buras, whether
it be a smutty blues solo or a shimmering bed of strumming.
There is scaffold-like drumming and supportively warm
bass playing from the tree-trunk rhythm section of Simen
Vangen and Frode Jacobsen. And it all infuses lavishly,
anonymously, into a mesmerising whole.
It then falls at the feet of shaman-like singer Sivert
Høyem, who picks it up and makes it speak with such
a captivating tongue. As authoritative as his deep,
range-crossing voice is on record, it’s handed a new
spirituality in person as you pick up on his every expressive
twitch, his every intuitive jerk, his wide-eyes acting
as some kind of embedded satellite receivers trained
on distant emotions.
And with songs so rich as ‘Hands Up, I Love You’ and
‘Majesty’ he really passes on what he’s got. Physically
he’s reminiscent of Michael Stipe and subsequently,
considering delivery, the comparison stretches audibly
as well. Although memories of Chris Issak are too vivid
to discount completely. He is the prism through which
all this dark light passes and the main reason you leave
tonight feeling so very wealthy.
James Berry for Crud Magazine 2004©