Boomkat Product Review:
Harking from the glorious province of Iceland - a nation-state which matches its natural beauty and enviable musical heritage with a drinking culture of Beowulf scope - Benni Hemm Hemm (aka Benedikt H. Hermannsson) has crafted a gorgeous follow up to 'Beginning End'; wherein the immediacy of that debut LP was recaptured through a lightening blast of undiluted recording time. Shoehorned into just four days, 'Kajak' was conceived and matured at Sundlaugin (the studio of Sigur Rós) - with eleven musicians coming together to fuse Hermannsson's vision into the kind of throbbing aural diktat that demands you stripe your face with a smile. Emotional, energetic and textured to perfection, 'Kajak' is restlessly virile - cramming a vast spectrum of instrumentation into pop tempered packages that veer clean of any potential overcrowding. Parochial in a way which doesn't invite accusations of blinkered ambitions, 'Kajak' thankfully invokes the horn-blasted spirit of 'Beginning End' - as the opening 'Skvavars' trickles into view through delicate acoustic fragments only to blossom with chalk-mural intensity as the full muscular potential of such a vast retainer of musicians kicks in. Conjuring images that invariably come via the medium of ravaging oceans and sunset theatrics, Hermannsson's vision is at once wide-screen and cripplingly intimate - a juxtaposition displayed to full effect on the wonderful 'Brekken'. Alternating between bombastic tracts of spiraling instrumentation and fragile vocal expositions, 'Brekkan' sets the tone for the rest of 'Kajak' - as moments of surging exuberance are brought into vivid contrast against the filigree emotions kept upfront. With the likes of 'Sorgartár' and its swelling composition, the abstract love poem of 'Regngalsinn', and the enigmatic 'Mónakó' all capturing a cohesive yet wonderfully varied narrative, Benni Hemm Hemm represents pop-music without the dirty connotations. Closing on the gorgeous 'Egisa' (imagine a contented sigh at sunset...), 'Kajak' is a record which ignores conventions and comes out shining with a rare lustre somewhere between Sigur Ros and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. Bootiful.