Choose your own adventurous record review!
Paragraph One, or, the musical adventures of Benni and the ice caves of time! Continue on into the cave and you can:
a.) Read about how Bennys (ies, is) through history have entertained us from Benny Goodman to Benny Hill, Benny and the Jets to Benihana restaurants. This would all come back and relate to Icelandic singer / songwriter Benni Hemm Hemm (whose real name is Benedik H. Hermansson) and his second full-length release, Kajak. If you choose this path, move onto the body of the review.
b.) Read on and find obligatory references to Sigur Rós, a band who will be mentioned in the body of any review of any Icelandic band, not to mention any band with any lengthy period of dreamy instrumental music and drawn out phrasing. The reference, however, does fit in this review as Benni Hemm Hemm used their studio to record this album. If you choose this path, you can either move onto the body of the review or contemplate the influence of Sigur Rós on independent music and popular culture in general.
c.) Read this and discover random facts about the culture of Iceland including tidbits about their cuisine, wildlife, belief systems and a fierce protection of their language, similar to the Old Norse, in which you’ll find a variety of o’s including ones with an accent mark, ones with an umlaut and ones with a leaning cross on top. If you choose this path, you will be redirected to a review of Worm is Green’s Automagic, where I took care of this topic the first time around.
The adventure continues as you exit the cave at a secluded shoreline and realize that the spires in the distant water are actually the tips of buildings from the lost city of Atlantis. Continue on with scuba gear in tow in the body of the review where you can:
a.) Discover that the music of Benni Hemm Hemm’s second album, Kajak, actually does share some similarity to the aforementioned Sigur Rós, mostly on the basis that, unless you know Icelandic, song titles and lyrics aren’t going to mean a whole lot to you. However, Hemm Hemm’s phrasing and stretching of particular sung words does bring the comparison to mind. You may also discover that Benni Hemm Hemm bears more of a striking resemblance to Sufjan Stevens or Danielson Famile thanks to an energetic and peppy horn section. While Hemm Hemm strums away on the guitar, his buddies throw in all sorts of quirky instruments including kettledrums and glockenspiel! Choose this path and continue on to the closing paragraph.
b.) Discover that Benni’s vocal style, nowhere near the otherworldly falsetto of Jon Birgisson, is more in line with the low yet comely drawl of Jens Lekman. Then further discover, to your amazement, as I did, that Jens actually guests on the first track. Well no wonder! Choose this path and either continue on to the closing paragraph, or perhaps become convinced to move to a Nordic country. You might want to start knitting a sweater.
c.) Discover that a lot of the so-called `facts’ made about Iceland are out of date, exaggerated and / or inconsequential. Because you spent so much time on Wikipedia trying to figure out the truth, you forgot where you were in the music review and perish in a string of unending hyperlinks. The End.
Finally, after saving Atlantis from the brink of destruction, you surface to find you are actually in Iceland and begin seeking the mysterious Benni Hemm Hemm. Find him and you can:
a.) Enjoy a particularly great album called Kajak filled with quirky and charming instrumentation, earnest vocals and likenesses to some of the finer independent artists around.
b.) Unwittingly buy a copy of Telly Savalas singing covers of lounge tunes in his character of Kojak. Oops. You lose in more ways than one.
c.) Accidentally find a copy of Benny Andersson’s post-Abba tribute albums to Fernando Lamas and Fernando Valenzuela, as he attempts to recapture the magic that was in the air that night. You die.