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Erlend Øye 

Unrest

Wednesday, Feb 12 2003
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The last 15 years saw the rise of the "Unplugged" phenomenon, in which rockers like Nirvana and Oasis got all sensitive with their acoustic instruments. Now, Norway's Erlend Øye is moving in the opposite direction. As half of Kings of Convenience, the singer/songwriter initially released two records of mopey hushedness, spearheading the "quiet is the new loud" movement with the 2001 album of the same name. But on his first solo disc, Unrest, Øye embraces the digital world, enlisting 10 different electronic producers from across the globe to augment his tunes.

Most of the contributors favor spare, simple elements to back Øye's delicate voice. Danish-born Norwegian transplant Björn Torske uses a snappy piano hook and a squelchy electronic bass line to make "The Talk" swing, while France's Minizza anchors "The Athlete" with treated clarinets. "Ghost Trains," produced by Morgan Geist of hot American duo Metro Area, sounds like the kind of warm and melodic electro-pop that Steve Masters used to play on Live 105 back in the late '80s, when artists like Cabaret Voltaire and Fortran 5 ruled his rotation.

Not all the collaborations work, however. The track with Atlanta hip hop scientist Prefuse 73, "Every Party (Has a Winner and a Loser)," recalls a cheesy soundtrack to an ancient video game. But with several countries and styles represented, it's amazing how cohesive Unrest sounds. It helps that Øye seems more confident and soulful with the digital backing -- you can almost imagine him scoring with the ladies, rather than whining about being ignored. Sometimes it's necessary to speak up if you want people to hear how good you are.

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Tamara Palmer

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