Benni Hemm Hemm

Kajak | Morr Music
By DAVID DAY  |  June 26, 2007
2.5 2.5 Stars
Berlin’s Morr Music, once the bedrock of indietronica, has taken a back seat to the rise of US indie electronicists like the Postal Service. But that hasn’t made the label any less relevant. Its latest salvo comes courtesy of Iceland’s Benedikt H. Hermannsson (a/k/a Benni Hemm Hemm). Playing like a Sufjan Stevensson, Hermannsson fronts a winsome band with his acoustic guitar and earnest voice. The disc’s lilting melodies hint at pastoral: “Abbastúfur,” the longest track, repeats “Stroke the wind softly/On its cheek,” and the rest of the songs are riddled with references to nature, weather, boats, and the sea. Like Sufjan, Benni is a deft arranger who imbues his songs with subtle sonic swells, variously deploying kettledrums, glockenspiels, and trombones. At times, the 26-year-old Icelander recalls the plaintive vocalizations of Brazilian tropicalista Gilberto Gil. Elsewhere, there are hints of Neutral Milk Hotel’s homespun loopiness. Kajak was recorded in Sundlaugin, home of Sigur Rós, but it’s simply the latest sample of exotic indie pop. (See also Finland’s Fonal Records, Japan’s Nagisa Ni Te, Sweden’s endless gallimaufry.) The language of twee-dom knows no borders.

Benni Hemm Hemm + Casiotone for the Painfully Alone + The Donkeys + Pants Yell! | Middle East upstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | July 6 | 617.864.EAST

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