Last week, Norwegian noise/art rock enigmas ÅRABROT released their Who Do You Love full-length via Pelagic Records. Described as, “a universe unto themselves,” by Louder Sound calling frontman Kjetil Nernes, “an iconoclast for dark and dysfunctional times, whose perverted dogma you would do well to fall under the sway of,” the Norwegian Grammy award winning ÅRABROT carry all the hallmarks of a sonic spectrum that has always been a wide and wild field of purposeful mismatches; a world of friction between the noisy, the disharmony, and the tension, with rivalling moments of harmonic relief.
And now, the band is pleased to unveil the visual companion to the track “Pygmalion” courtesy of BrooklynVegan. In Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses, Pygmalion was a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory.
Offers Nernes, “Pygmalion fell in love with his statue. The song ‘Pygmalion is inspired by a vision of figures come alive in a garden in France. Terrible figures that give birth to terrible visions. It sounds like ÅRABROT at their most tender, but is it really?”
Adds BrooklynVegan, “This is one of two songs on the album where main member Kjetil Nernes turns lead vocals over to his wife Karin Park (the other is ‘Sons And Daughters’), and the result is a gothy, atmospheric pop song that fans of ’80s 4AD might like. (It’s also not at all indicative of the rest of the album, which is all over the place.) The video is equally eerie, and mostly revolves around footage of Karin performing the song at a piano in candlelight, as Kjetil looks on…”
View “Pygmalion” at BrooklynVegan at THIS LOCATION.
Echoes And Dust calls Who Do You Love, “a diverse and rewarding listen, albeit a rather gloomy one…” Two Guys Metal Reviews hails a record that’s, “Chunky, punchy, and over the fucking top,” adding, “this is a weird listen to be sure but one that fans of art rock will be enamored with.” Drowned In Sound crowns the record, “yet more proof of ÅRABROT’s status as amongst Europe’s leading alternative rock acts.”
Elaborates Ghost Cult, “the caustic nature of Killing Joke and the artistic abrasiveness of The Birthday Party has never been too far away from the forefront of Kjetil Nernes work. By adding a Nick Cave backwash to the (ir)regular order of things on latest offering Who Do You Love, Nernes has established a unsettling tone to proceedings where the unmelodious dark poetry of a tale of morality is woven into jangling art rock ‘n’ roll (‘Maldoror’s Love’), that playfully sits at odds with servings of cathartic goth death rock, such as the twisted reworking of Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman.’”
There is a great deal more than noise rock to ÅRABROT’s formula however. “I’m interested in feelings, either the very silent or the extremely noisy,” comments Nernes. “I don’t care about what’s in between, the middle of the road isn’t my thing. The bible fits really well with that. I’m using it thematically all of the time.”
It comes as no surprise that the singer and guitar player has established himself in a former church in the woods of Dalarna in rural Sweden, where he lives with his wife, piano player, and singer Karin Park, and where his band now rehearses and records, surrounded by pianos, organs, and hundreds of old bibles that the church left behind when the congregation stopped. The clerical environment has proven to be an excellent creative tapestry for a band whose lyrical focus orbits around sex, death, and defiance.
Nernes has made his own firsthand experience with the topics he sings about. He was diagnosed with malignant throat cancer in 2014, in the middle of a tour. Instead of heading in for surgery right away, the band finished a full European tour first, “Every night of that tour was like the last show ever,” Nernes comments, “When a doctor calls and says, ‘you’re terribly sick,’ it’s surreal. You go into this phase where life is more vivid and more real, in a weird way. We’ve done so many shows through the years and sometimes it’s a little like going to the factory to do a job. But with an axe hanging over your head you perceive the world differently.”
After successfully recovering from cancer, Nernes and ÅRABROT are now stronger than ever. The band has collaborated with procuders like Billy Anderson and Steve Albini, and musicians like Ted Parsons (Killing Joke, Swans), Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley, and Kvelertak’s Erlend Hjelvik. They have composed music for silent movies like Die Niebelungen and Doctor Caligari, and have teamed up with The Quietus founder John Doran on his spoken word tour. Their previous full-length album The Gospel, was also named Album of the Year by The Quietus. And now comes the the big question this September: Who Do You Love? For fans of: Swans, Unsane, The Melvins, Death In June, Captain Beefheart, and Killing Joke.