It’s always a distinct pleasure for me to review Nordic music and although I’m – as those who know me know (too) well – all for Iceland and its culture, I have a special place in my heart for music from Denmark, as I lived there for half a year back in the days.
Make no mistake, that was not a description of why ‘Sequel’ by Euzen might get good marks here. There’s not so good music everywhere in the world, it’s just that Danish seem to be exceptionally resonant for modernizing their culture and musical traditions. Hell, I dare to say that quality folktronica hails from somewhere around there. (Just think about the work of Sorten Muld or Valravn.)
Euzen is somewhat in that lot as their music is what the ancient Nordic people would’ve made if they had had the instruments and digital magic to work with. The rhythms and the harmonics are in many cases indeed based on traditional music. But even at first sight, without having heard anything by Euzen (having a knowledge of the scene), the band has something promising about its membership: Christopher Juul. He is the sound-sculptor, programmer, keys-player from Valravn and Euzen has been his pet-side project with Maria Franz from Norway. As they write in their blog, Euzen was founded in Iceland by Juul and Franz after a long friendship. Since then they have released one album, ‘Eudaimonia’ in 2009 and during the recording process, the lineup was expanded with Harald Juul (guitars and strings), Jon Pold (bass) and Kristian Uhre (drums, percussion).
2011 found the band releasing their sophomore, the aptly titled ‘Sequel’ and if you ask me how things stand, it is the definitely a ‘2nd-album-situation’ in case of a promising effort: more coherent and consistent sound, as clever instrumentals as ever, a clear conception and direction to move forward. Euzen stayed with what they do best but in some cases they definitely peaked out of their comfort zone.
It’s always difficult to write about ‘general characteristics that make up a band’s sound’ and not let the readers think that the work in question is NOT anything repetitive but since Euzen is one of the most unique electronica bands today and the artwork looks like a cover for a viking metal band, some general features should be welcomed. Maria Franz has a really interesting, synchopated way of singing, she has a lush and general high-pitched voice which is flawlessly countered by the creative and dynamic work of the rhythm section as well as Christopher Juul’s soundscapes. All in all, the sound is laid back with sometimes playful beats and the character of the music is somewhat comparable to some sort of a blissful battle between alternative pop and folk-based electronica. But Euzen managed to become much more than that on ‘Sequel’ with songs like ‘Judged By’ with a simple but sonically deep and vastly enjoyable guitar work by Harald Juul (this song was cleverly chosen to be the first single off ‘Sequel’, see the beautifully thought-out video below), ‘Coherence’ or the suite-like ‘Sequel’.
Anyone who want to experience an organic balance among contemporary electronic music, classical piano-work and arrangements, traditional but modernized elements of Nordic music and a pinch of progressive rock, do not hesitate to dive into “Euzeniverse” as the band call their own world. And those of you who have the opportunity of seeing them live in concert, tell us how good it was.
‘Judged By’ video: