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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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Nanook Of The North
The Taby Tapes
Hidden Agenda

Swedish collective Nanook of the North takes the title character from Robert Flaherty's 1922 nonfiction film of the same name, magically transporting him from Canada's Hudson Bay region to the Stockholm suburb of Taby. It is there the band members meet the Eskimo boy and convince him to record his glittering story songs in their home studio (or so the tale is told on this wonderful album). There's further fantasy in the vellum-layered snapshots which make up the album's art, souvenirs of a make-believe traveler. In one, an imposing, curved building stands in a snowy lot; a silver Airstream nearly tilts out of the camera's frame in another. Alongside such modern totems some themes emerge on Nanook's cassette, including fragility and a wish for peaceable nations.

The Taby Tapes, anthemic in some places and still in others, is an alluring conceit. Nanook of the North, the band who dreamt this up, assemble what looks to be members of Pineforest Crunch (Mattias Olsson, Olle Soderstrom and Mats), a table of found instruments (Mellotron, Optigan, Stylophone, Chilton Talentmaker, Emenee Tiger Guitar) and articulate handlers like Pea Hix (Optiganally Yours) and JFRE "robot" Coad (Aspects of Physics / Physics / Lesser). Instead of one feathery songstress, Nanook hosts an array of Sweden's loveliest voices, including Akaba and Karin Engstrand.

The Taby Tapes provides ample reason to become acquainted with contemporary Swedish pop, a varied company that in part includes refined cover men (Hederos & Hellberg), fluid electronics (Moonbabies) and intimate night music (Club 8). A modern abstraction with influences both familiar and apart, The Taby Tapes includes Múm's aurora-like fusion of voice and machine and the intellection of Belle & Sebastian.

Nanook of the North have drawn together a fanciful notion where indie-pop affects the soft heart of a stage musical. Charming girl-boy duets alight throughout, the smilingly warm kind best exchanged over balconies at night or during a ride on a carousel. Lacking such tangible set-pieces, the vocalists defer instead to Nanook and his contemplative, soaring idyll (which encircles everyone in a hope for a better future, really).

"Reaching the Shores of Arlanda," an overture of flute, hushed whale songs and synthetic chittering, begins the journey or, rather, the recollection. "Karin Boye's Grave" envisions a collaboration with the potent thinker/writer, probably Sweden's greatest woman poet: "We would have fallen in love with you and I/ Really would love to hear you sing/ Bring on the vibes and I'll bring the ring/ Come back to life and we'll show you everything." Boye's evocative verse inspires throughout, overreaching the winsome paean. Her otherworldly prose holds the importance of beauty, small things and dream vision. Regiment-like drumming becomes gentler, with oboe, exultant duets and electronica like shooting stars.

The appealing "Israel and Palestine — A Solution" is about the amplified treachery of the Middle East, but just as much about the worldly cities that inevitably swallow up the smaller towns, in this case Stockholm's Taby. Combining grand chamber strings and a harmonica, the apology suggests a numinous Prefab Sprout pairing: "Taby, I'm so sorry/ I didn't speak for you/ I looked the other way/ Nanook, don't you worry/ This is holy ground/ I can prove my case."

Invented romance — and the accompanying duets — are, of course, indie-pop currency, and The Taby Tapes finds such boy-girl interplay bearing lustre throughout. An exception is "Hey Fragile," a clobbering song about a guy who sees past himself only long enough to deride a girl who likes him: "So I keep kicking, pushing you around/ That is the only thing I do all right." Slide guitar and the accentuated plip-plop of a faucet are inventive shadings before the sailing albeit punitive chorus. Somewhat country, but then again really not.

An ingenious outing, The Taby Tapes wraps the heart in cloud-like arrangements, playful instrumentation and utterly romantic vocals.

by Jennifer Przybylski

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