Erlend Oye is a man of many masks, but of only one beautifully pristine voice. Originally from Bergen in Norway, he first came to light as one half of The Kings of Convenience (although he had been a member of a couple of other Skandi bands previously) and their whimsical whisper-folk. From here he travelled extensively and took an interest in electronica, releasing his own album and lending his vocals to various other acts, before forming current band The Whitest Boy Alive, who are undoubtedly firm favourites at Salmon Towers. Now two albums deep, they were originally formed as an electronic band, but evolved to contain no programmed sounds, effectively becoming a live band who play music with dancefloor sensibilities. They create lovely simple melodies that follow the clean-cut scandipop rules, held together by clever percussion and satisfying squiggly noises; kind of like if Fleetwood Mac were produced by Kraftwerk whilst ram-raiding Ikea.
Underpinning all of these ventures is Erlend’s crystalline sine-wave voice that gives everything he does a certain fragility that is soothing, yet tormenting at the same time.
The best covers are the ones that draw upon the raw material of the original song and catapult it in to uncharted territories, changing genres or styles but managing to keep the sentiment at the song’s heart intact. In this case, Hercules and Love Affair put their 90’s house slant on one of the xx’s most popular songs. It succeeds by building on the originals simplicity, filling the empty spaces with digital beeps and squelches, lifting it’s gaze from it’s shoes to meet you squarely in the eyes, but managing not to lose the lonely aching sadness at it’s center.
Conversly, NYC producers Diamond Cut, take said song, smear it in lipgloss, dunk it in glitter and send it hurtling back up to the far side of the tempo spectrum, giving rise to this poppers o’clock monstrosity (which I love, of course).