Kings of Convenience ‘Versus’ (Source, 2001)

‘Quiet Is The New Loud’, the debut album from Norway’s Kings Of Convenience – Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe – is the gentlest strum and pluck of a record, and the Bergen duo were cast very much from an old school folk tradition.

Think Nick Drake, Tim Buckley and John Martyn, who at the turn of the millennium were going through a regular resurgence in popularity as a new generation discovered their tender charms. Add to that the rise of artists like Bright Eyes and the much-missed Elliott Smith and, well, Kings Of Convenience were on point.

As the album title suggests, Kings Of Convenience’s world was one where they stepped back from the guitar noise of the 1990s. That they could pen a tune was in little doubt. Tracks like ‘I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From’, with its earworm melody and rich strings, and the tippy-tappy rhythm of ‘Toxic Girl’ should be on every playlist worth its salt. The whole thing is a glorious late-night kickback of a record.

I’m never quite sure how these things happen, but KOC’s simple, stripped- back, six-string salvos chimed with the dance music fraternity. It was one of those records that tended to find its way to the top of the pile at the “back to mine” sessions after a night on the tiles.

Inevitably perhaps, the dance kids took the pair under their wing and with ‘Versus’ they gave ‘Quiet Is The New Loud’ a sprinkle of electronic stardust. But this wasn’t about moulding dancefloor bangers – it was way more subtle. It’s not a straight remix album, more a work in its own right featuring new arrangements, collaborations and remakes. Four Tet serves up a couple of swings at ‘The Weight Of My Words’, adding a shuffling beat, a warm squeezebox refrain and a looping vocal to brilliant effect, while his instrumental version is similarly delightful. Ladytron bring an arsenal of swooping synths to ‘Little Kids’, while Kings themselves chip in with a new, beefier arrangement of ‘Failure’.

There’s a real Norway/Manchester axis to proceedings. Representing Manchester, Andy Votel’s take on ‘Winning A Battle, Losing The War’ 
reflects the vibe of his own Twisted Nerve label, while TN labelmates 
Alfie also contribute with a clattering remake of ‘Failure’.

Pick of the Norwegian charge is a staggeringly good remix of ‘I Don’t Know…’ by Röyksopp, who turn in a version that’s equal to the original. 
And there’s the brilliant Evil Tordivel, who’s clearly in party mood with his upbeat reinterpretation of ‘Leaning Against The Wall’, sounding not unlike Badly Drawn Boy, who of course was Votel’s partner in Twisted Nerve.

I can heartily recommend filling a playlist with both albums and hitting shuffle for the perfect after-hours soundtrack. Pleasingly, Kings Of Convenience popped back up last year with ‘Peace Or Love’, their first long-player in 12 years. All back to mine?

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