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Music Review

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Artist: Arabnormal
Label: [PIAS]
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 14 February 2020

Record label PIAS releases the debut album from Post-Punk, Eastern Psychedelia and Alternative World Music combo Arabnormal, from Oslo in Norway. The combo comprises surviving ex-frontman and songwriter of The Hickey Underworld, Younes Faltakh – along with ex-Das Pop member Niek Meul. When playing live the duo is joined by ex-Hickey Underworld member Jonas Govaerts, ex-Deadsets member Mich Beniest, and Millionaire members Damien Vanderhasselt and Sjoerd Bruil. They are described colloquially as ‘a manically zonked-out flying carpet ride.’ The new single 'Digital Veil' proves to be a contrast, purveying a Soft Rock treatise mainly for the purposes of creating a video in the vein of The Hickey Underworld.

'Scorpio' is the opener, and it’s different right from the off. Central bass, guitar, and electronic noise creates a song which incorporates several genres including, World Music, Psychedelia, Pop, Funk, and Experimental Rock. The vocals fit right in with the madness. It’s a very original sound, with no sense of direction. Nevertheless, intrigued, you’re pulled along for the ride. 'Dominion' lures us with weird out-of-tune electronica, before a thudding electronic bass and guitar effects from Mars takes us into a song with the strangest backing. The idea is to creep you out with sounds from another off-kilter universe, and then taunting with short sequences of traditional Rock which is all the while being enticed by tendrils from another dimension. 'Bodyguard' begins like the soundtrack to a creepy suspense thriller. Part of the sound is maintained by the guitar and ever-present bass for the song proper. The vocals are versatile; this time they are purposefully strained and moody. I love the turn the guitarist puts in at the end. You think it’s going to conform to generic standards, but instead it’s weird, inventive and brief.

With 'Toy' the vocals are quick, dragging the band sound into a similar format. This one is very melodic, and again tweaks at the outré. It gets in and out again before you are able to get a handle on it. 'Crypt' tempts with an early Funk-like intro, before going on a totally alternative path. The bass, drums and tweaking guitar sounds turns to a smooth melody, but it’s a trick. Even the returned-to structures are punctuated by stirring out-of-nowhere sounds and electronic noises. 'Digital Veil' is the most constrained and traditional sound of the bunch. It’s a great song, but is it a good idea to stray from the norm with the single. Surely you would want at least a hint of the overall quirky, unhinged madness of the band. It’s what makes them different and special for their originality.

'Bubble' is more like it, with a return to a great off-balance Rock song incorporating style and drive unlike anything I’ve heard before. This would be a fantastic song to play in the car, and possibly the best of the bunch so far. The bass controls 'T9', while screeches of guitar accompany to the full band sound which is thick and tight. As yet I haven’t really heard any pilfered sounds from other bands. It seems to be a well-thought-out original waywardness which you can never guess at. 'Crybaby' goes the extra mile in its verse oddities; it’s so refreshing not to know exactly where a song is heading. 'Hall of Mirrors' is the exception to the rule. It could very well be a Gary Numan track, it is so close to the style. There’s nothing wrong with this quite heavy moderate-paced track, but it does not display their otherwise diverse rollercoaster of abnormal (I can see that the name comes from this idea and Abbey Normal from Young Frankenstein) brilliance.

This music is difficult to explain, and I don’t feel I’ve done it enough justice. There isn’t a duff track on this album which refuses to outstay its welcome. I can only suggest you seek it out. I might have to pick up a CD copy myself.


Ty Power

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