Album Review: Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen by Casiokids
Very Good, Based on 12 Critics
New Musical Express (NME) - 80 Based on rating 4/5
What [a]Casiokids[/a] lack in snappy album titles, they certainly make up for in snappy album contents. Chock full of Casio chintz, languid basslines and the general feeling of being at some kind of tropical knees up, it’s essentially the interim album Joe Mount might have made between ‘Nights Out’ and ‘The English Riviera’, with a little [a]Vampire Weekend[/a] thrown in. The brilliantly monikered [b]‘Dr Tarzan Monsoon’[/b] floats by on hazy 3am keyboard lulls, while single [b]‘Det Haster!’[/b] is all parping synths and cooing, coy vocals.
Casiokids' second album, Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen, begins with a stately, quietly majestic song that sounds like the pastoral opening theme to a film about dragon quests or fairy uprisings. It’s very pretty but you wonder what happened to the manically gleeful dance-poppers of Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar. Did they grow up and get serious? Did they fall victim to believing they were artists and not goofballs who made you want to dance, not “think”? Track two puts those worries and fears to bed with no supper.
Hailing from picturesque Bergen, Norway, synthpop quartet Casiokids are back with the Norwegian-language Aabenbaringen over aaskammen (The Revelation over the mountain), the band’s second U.S. release and third album overall. The follow-up to last year’s favorably reviewed Topp stemning på lokal bar (Great vibe at local bar) is a winning combo of danceable beats, catchy pop melodies and ethereal vocals that builds on the successes of the previous album while showcasing generally tighter production and some new tonal directions.
Casiokids have been around for a while now, somewhat surprisingly. Their first EP came out in 2007, which is five(!) years ago, just about. In the intervening years they’ve always been around, gaining plenty of admirers but few hardcore fans, and never really stoking up a significant level of hype. So, will their second album change all that? Probably not.
Norway’s Casiokids first stormed the beaches of North America with their 2010 release Topp stemning pa lokal bar, a collection of singles that served as their Polyvinyl debut. (Their actual debut album, 2007’s Fuck MIDI, made them an underground sensation across Scandinavia and Europe.) On the back of Topp’s release, the band earned both a scholarship funded by notable countrymen A-Ha (who later invited them to open for their farewell tour) and a Spellemann (Norwegian Grammy) nomination for the cinematic “En vill hest” video. This recognition allowed the band to perform the festival circuit in England, Poland, and Australia, and complete a sold-out tour across North America.
In the wake of the sickening mass-murder that left Norway reeling in July, a glut of foreign editorials suggested that a “naïve” and “innocent” nation had been shocked into an inevitable process of growing up. Fueled by some condescending notion that the UK and US, with their intensive airport security procedures and formidable police presences, were appropriately getting to grips with the reality of the modern world, they conjured up an image of Norway—its enviably high living standards and low crime rates presumably some happy accident—as full of carefree spirits presumably hugging each other by fjords and picking pretty flowers, entirely forgetting that there might be wasps amongst the blossoms. This knee-jerk supposition was patronizing, distasteful and absurd.
Scandinavia is a land of nearly mythical stature among globally minded pop connoisseurs. Music critics talk about the region’s producers and songwriters less as artists or businessmen than as scientists attuned to the physics of pop in a way that makes their counterparts in L.A., London, and Tokyo look amateurish by comparison. From ABBA to Ace of Base to Robyn, it’s Stockholm in particular that appears to have undertaken pop’s answer to the Manhattan Project, unveiling a new, chart-busting weapon of mass infectiousness at least once a decade.
The breezy yet meticulous music of Norway's Casiokids sneaks up on you. It radiates earnestness and simplicity, which can obscure the fine inner workings. Watery vocal hooks and refrains tug at your ear first, but it's the tiny moving parts and lathed instrumental motifs that really get lodged there. This works out to either a kind of failure for a persona-seeking indie-pop band or a kind of success for an atmospheric dance band, two spheres Casiokids have always seemed slightly adrift between, to intriguing but muddying effect.
With Casiokids‘ third album, Aabenbaringen over aaskammen, the band promised to explore the possibilities afforded to them through numerous production techniques while still retaining “the rawness of the first two records.” With such a precarious balancing act ahead of these talented Norwegians, the question begs: Did they actually achieve their goal? Yes and no. Throughout the album’s 10 tracks, fans will surely hear bits and pieces of varying sizes from records No. 1 and 2.
An unexpected and intriguing album from the Norwegian synth-rockers. Lou Thomas 2012 In 2008 Casiokids released the first Norwegian-language pop single in the UK, Grønt Lys I Alle Ledd. At that point the Bergen-based synth-pop crew had one cheap and cheerful Norway-only album behind them by the name of F*** MIDI, and looked set for some moderate indie-level fame.
The sound of Norwegian synth-pop group Casiokids’ latest LP is inspired by the story of an adventurer’s discovery of a hidden rainforest. It certainly shows—Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen (“the revelation over the mountain” in English) is lush, mysterious and brimming with wildness. Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen is a four-paws-on-the-floor record: You can dance to pretty much every song on this one.
As unpalatable as it may be to swallow – and I’m loathe to type this – sometimes, somewhere, some good can come out of reality TV. Yes you read that right. And no, I don’t mean money going to charity from whatever anodyne cover The X Factor Has Questionable Notions Of What The Word ‘Talent’ Actually Means has made its latest winning crop of puppets cover for the Christmas single.