Here’s a clip of Norwegian folk-pop duo Kings of Convenience, here in their natural habitat of Bergen, Norway. It’s “Me In You”, a track that can be heard on their most recent record, Declaration of Dependence from 2009.
In addition to being a reminder of their skills in creating melancholic, atmospheric music that seems to fuse pop, jazz, and samba-like rhythms, this clip gives you an overview – literally – of their hometown. It was the first video that the duo directed themselves, although I’m not sure whether it was Erlend Øye or Erik Glambek Bøe , the two KoC principles, who oversaw the remote-control camera (if that’s what it was!).
This clip touches on a two of my personal passions. One is accessible, intelligent pop music that pulls from disparate sources and eras, yet is still to be considered as wholly original. The other is city planning designed for humans and human happiness, not for cars, for developers, or real estate speculators. Just look at that town. Beautiful.
And there’s a point. How does one’s environment affect the way one’s music comes out? Is there a correlation? And how does it play out here?
Well, looking at this video, the scene is certainly idyllic. But, there’s just a hint of loneliness too, not unlike there is in the music. Shown here, the beautiful setting seems totally deserted too, but for our two heroes. Maybe that’s the way it seems to many living in any hometown.
The song’s lyrics also reflect a quiet inner turmoil that hometowns tend to engender. It may be the reason why the band’s hometown is such an ideal setting for this video, with a rooftop view of the city at twilight – or is it early in the morning? Either way, it’s atmospheric. But atmosphere has always been a strength in this band, with songs that seem to evoke memories that are slightly hazy, as in a dream, and marked by an alchemy of regret and wistfulness.
Touching on the same musical turf as Simon & Garfunkel, CSN, and Elliott Smith, there is something of the northern climate to be found in their music as a whole. And Bergen, sitting on the coast of Norway and staring out into the Fjords, the mountains, the islands just off the coast, with the cold North Sea beyond them seems to have been their point of view all along, a reflective gaze into a blue eternity.
Despite their many musical projects, and the gap between their last record and any forthcoming ones, Kings of Convenience are an active band today. And they certainly have a faithful fanbase. You can join them on the Kings of Convenience Facebook page, which Erik and Erlend update themselves.