sin fang bous clangour
    • MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2009

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    On the wildly imaginative album Clangour, Sin Fang Bous achieves a level of palpable elegance when synthetic noise merges with folk sensibility. Following the success of Iceland-based group, Seabear, frontman Sindri Mar Sigfusson departs from standard pop fare, in favor of more experimental composition that is conceptual and highly effective. The artist utilizes a myriad of mechanical sounds and reverbarations, outlining every track with any number of frantic clicks, pings and acerbic screeches. The final product however, is hardly a swarm of frenetic noise. Sigfusson's tracks are a whirlwind of excitement and heightened emotional experience.

    Sin Fang Bous is likely to draw comparisons from Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion; but it is this artist's lyrical style that sets him apart. On some level, this may have to do with Sindri's own Icelandic tongue. Under Bous' textured vocals, words wash together. As a result, the listener is not lost in heavy handed prose. Concrete images and objects become focal points for every song and are as colorful as they are significant. Amidst the chaos, there is an impressionistic characterisation of the artist's interior life.

    "Catch the Light", speaks to the artist's cowboy fantasies and presents a romantic portrait of life on the open range. Nights spent outside under the stars and in the rain are underscored by percussion and weightless harmonies. On this, and on much of the album, Sigfusson achieves a ghost-like quality with delicately layered vocals. Here however, Sigfusson scales back on sounds effects, his voice occassionally compressed to produce an antique feel. It is the artist's controlled excess that makes the work so potent. We may never hear the turn of a pistol, but are still caught up in the action of a mythic gunslinger's duel. Ultimately, the piece ends in a flurry of looping beeps and digital noise. The nature of the western retelling is in turn revealed; it is nothing more than fiction, a dream ruptured by the pangs of a morning alarm.

    Neverthless, Sigfusson's whimsical approach keeps weighty pathos at a safe distance. Amorous ballads are never weepy and often playful. On "We Belong", he speaks of being "torn apart" by love, but follows this up Dr. Seuss-like prose that are both sad and sweet: "You are this fox in the box within. Your hands are here but your heart, your heart is so far away."

    A rhythmic jaunt, "Advent in Ives Garden" is as much a mouthful as it is an earful of the band's strengths. Sigfusson juxtaposes techno inclinations with traditional instrumentals: beeps and clicks combat piano, strings, and winds. This produces what can only be described as the inside of a Chutes and Ladders board game. The listener is both cartoon character and game piece, subject to twists and turns, slides and drops. The tempo momentarily slows, but pulls you right back on the loopy ride without warning. All this movement seems to signifiy Sigfusson's essential question on the album: whether an automated age can expand our artistic senses or simply disorient us to a point of total social nihilism.

    Sin Fang Bous just finished up their latest tour of the US and Canada with fellow Scandy band, Mum; but be sure to catch up on what you missed with Clangour.-megan diamondstein

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