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coverpic flag Norway - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 17 - 03/13/98

Urd Barbarian
Urd In Bondage
Major Ego Produkt

At first sight I was very impressed by this release. The cover is shaped pasteboard with partly naive drawings of the Urd gang (a duo) and their instruments folded as a box with a booklet, a couple of postcards/prints, a photo and finally a CD inside. The CD contains 20 tracks named after 20 James Bond films. But the music has very little in common with the 007 title tracks. We don't get anything in the vein of John Barry, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Wings, a-ha, Sheryl Crow or whatever. On first hearing, I was really disappointed. The recordings sounded very home-made, only harsh voices, drum machines and distorted guitars, it seemed. After some closer listening, quite a bit of the album is fascinating in some strange way. Lots of variations and different vibrations. A few tracks are almost straight and simple pop songs, others experimental.

No doubt the Urd Barbarians have listened to Pere Ubu, the Residents (anyone who remembers them anymore?) and Zappa's Mothers in their youths. When the references are most obvious, Urd sounds very amateurish and crude in comparison. They might have gained by preparing and rehearsing their song-oriented material to some more extent before the recordings started. Especially some of the vocal efforts are less than mediocre and partly nicely and not so nicely out of tune. Other tracks seem to be improvised on the spot, fresh and unspoilt spurs of the moment. Great! Of the "ordinary" songs, Never Say Never Again is outstanding, almost a melancholic pop ballad with harpsicord backing and a saxophone solo! Dr. No is also amusing, the good doctor is not what he used to be at the movies: The kids are playing violins, ...supervised by Dr. No. And there's a lot of sax here as well.

The experimental stuff often includes strange noises made by ordinary instruments. From Russia With Love has multilayers of sounds by violin and piano strings in the first half. Quite fascinating! On Her Majesty's Secret Service is Urd at the most hilarious, almost a collage of several tunes and ideas: staccato guitar, jazzy drums, eastern wind instruments, dog barking vocals (?), floating keyboards...

Urd In Bondage shows it's easier to get away with improvised experimental music than song structures. The Barbarians ought to rehearse more thoroughly in the bath before they start recording their next album. There are a few rough diamonds forever included here, and quite a bit of gravel. If you are a passionate collector of James Bond artifacts or enjoy the free spirit of unpretentious and truly home-made songs, sounds and efforts, you don't need to look any further. A view to a kill, indeed!

KomKol Autoprod.,
c/o Tore H. Boe, Kirkegata 37 A, N-7014 Trondheim, Norway.

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