[ download ]
On “Add Ends,” the final track from Danish quartet When Saints Go Machine‘s upcoming debut LP, vocalist Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild laments that “there is no way to sort disorder.” It is an apt metaphor for trying to decipher and describe the melange of sounds and styles appropriated by the band on Konkylie, slated for a June 21st release via the !K7 label.
Like the nine songs which precede it on that record, “Add Ends” is a mystifying, captivating listen, as weird as it is beautiful. It’s also one of the most unique songs you’re likely to hear this year, a sui generis slice of meticulously crafted songwriting. For its distinct passages, contrapuntal melodies, evaporating rhythms, and unlikely finale, “Add Ends” proves itself worthy of the noun “composition.”
When Saints Go Machine’s singular sound comes in part from Vonsild’s iconoclastic vocal delivery (which sounds a bit like Erlend Øye under a goofy sort of sedation) but is equally indebted to the virtuosic musicality of the group’s other members. Jonas Kenton and Simon Muschinsky both man keyboards for the band, which eschews the traditional guitar and bass combo in favor of more ambitious sights. Percussionist Silas Moldenhawer fleshes out the flickering, shapeshifting scene as Vonsild’s lyrics paint the skies with poetically abstracted phrases. (“There’s a crack in these eyes / From the bones and the crystals on the map,” goes one representative line.)
There is no denying that When Saints Go Machine make music that requires patience and an effort toward understanding, but songs like “Add Ends” are worth taking the time to get to know. It is strangely gorgeous, otherworldly music, offering itself to anyone who will stop and truly listen.