Sunday, July 17, 2011

Klak Tik - Must We Find a Winner

I'd like to say a few words about Sufjan Stevens before moving onto something more current. Stevens, at one point, had caused me to stop in my tracks with his whimsical and minor orchestral arrangements, and of course, his lyrics – songs like “Flint” and “For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti” had, eight years ago, caused me to rethink what it meant to be a good songwriter. The stuff was beautiful. And sure, maybe his state projects, all two of them, were based off research and not firsthand accounts. But boy, he nailed his words well. And his music set a tone well enough that he could have muttered the alphabet and still made me cry. It should also be noted that he was the first banjo player I could name without following with the word “corny.”

But the more attention he received, the more he began to come off as a snooty dad who decided it better to spend his media time accusing Vampire Weekend of being an “Afro-beat Ivy League pop” novelty, which he is entitled to do but which was somewhat unnecessary, and eventually his music began to look more like acting than genuine feeling. Which really made him no better than the music he criticized.

So, for that more current something. Last month saw the full-length re-release of Must We Find a Winner, from Klak Tik, a project from Copenhagen-born Søren Bonke and his team of seven, currently based in the UK. In a nutshell, the record is gorgeous. It is chilling and it is whimsical. It is clean and simple, yet full and warm. The acoustic guitar strings are as necessary and prominent as each brass piece. And it sounds as though there might be a hint of something genuine behind Bonke's voice, other than, you know, research.

At times (e.g., “Driverless Train to Expo”), Must We Find a Winner recalls the clean style and recording quality of the last Kings of Convenience record, with moments of silence so pure you could hear the drop of that proverbial pin; at others, like “Tomme Domme,” and “I Am Your Memory,” it is very much the stuff of Sufjan Stevens at his 2003 best. And as the group is quite outwardly influenced by him, I'm sure they'd be flattered to know that they pull off the qualities that once gave him his largest fanbase.

Klak Tik - The 2nd Wave is Sometimes Bigger

Klak Tik - Tomme Domme

Purchase Must We Find a Winner

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