From the snow capped vistas of Norway comes Kate Havnevik, a modern day Nordic siren ready to enchant us with her imaginative debut and to make her mark in modern pop music. Melankton, the albums title, comes from a book Kate read and it means dark rose -quite fitting for a darkly poetic piece of music that is often dramatic, very alluring and should appeal to a broad range of music listeners. As much as I hate comparisons I think if you are fans already of Bjork, Dido, Royksopp, Hooverphonic or Imogen Heap, I am pretty sure you will find lots of things to enjoy on Melankton.
Some listeners might be familiar with her background vocals. Kate sang on Royksopps techno hits Only This Moment and Circuit Breaker from their last album The Understanding, she also worked on a couple of songs on Carmen Rizzos electronic record called Lost Art Of The Idle Moment. But fans might have even heard of her on television. Beautifully mirroring lifes tender and powerful moments some of the album tracks were featured on the hit TV drama Greys Anatomy, generating a buzz & prompting viewers to seek her out.
Creating the album Kate recorded the core string arrangements first. The vocals were recorded in her bedroom studio where she could capture the right feel and sound for each song. Voice (often supple and hushed), lyrics (intimate and warm) and melodies (leisurely drawn out) are the main elements with no strict formula writing for the album and no focus on having one or two big singles. Kates goal was to have the album be a piece of music as a whole and its evident when one listens how nicely bound the tracks are for the entirety of the record.
Several very talented collaborators from quite different backgrounds were enlisted to make Melankton. Guy Sigsworth (of Frou Frou fame) co-wrote 4 tracks in the album and helped Kate with his masterful electronic beats, Carmen Rizzo did some additional programming, Maria Huld Markan provided string arrangements (she has worked with Sigur Ros and Amina), Froydis Re Werke, an exceptional horn player lended her talents (she is the main teacher in horn at the Royal College of Music in Oslo), the talented contemporary jazz player Arve Henriksen provided some dazzling and very emotional trumpet sounds for a couple of the albums highlights and lastly there is the magnificent 16 piece string orchestra from Bratislava Slovakia adorning the dramatic background of most of these tracks. With all this marriage of lush sounds mixed together, one would think this is a schizophrenic piece of work, but the neat techno arrangements blend effortlessly with the organic orchestral sounds.
Kate’s songs have various themes. Enjoying lifes precious moments I think is the most resounding one. Se Meg is sung in Norwegian the lyrics mean See me as I am and take what comes so clearly this isnt a song about relationship compromises but rather one of acceptance. The trumpet sounds on that track sound like lonely ships passing by, lulling us with their romantic solitary sounds, making that one of the most serene and romantic moments in the whole album. On I dont know you she knows the stars, the wind the sky and waves yet she would like to know her partner better so she pleads for him to show who he is to her. Isnt that always such a vulnerable state? To really get to know someone and to really show ourselves as we are to someone we love with all our little flaws? Equally emotional and romantic is Kaleidoscope, where she abandons her worries and sees the world through a kaleidoscope of colors mesmerized by sincere love. On Unlike Me she sings about time not existing, living in the moment, with no guarantees in life we should live our lives intensely and love every minute of it, every minute alive as she insists. On New Day she is admiring a beautiful day starting up with her lover awaking with morning stars in his eyes, ready for what this new day will have to bring, it is one of the more upbeat tracks in the album, due to the energized electronic beats kicking in mid way through and closing the album on a high note.
The album is now available on I-tunes and online from Kate’s web site with deals for US and UK distribution in the very near future. -Sakis Pavlakakis
Visit Kate Havnevik’s Official Website