Devil Duck Records/Tomt Recordings
The new album "B.U.R.M.A." by long time itsatrap-favorite Björn Kleinhenz has something ectoplasmic about it: Every time I think I've pinned down its "essence", it morphs into something else and oozes away through the speakers. At least three musical reincarnations of Björn roam these songs -- familiar Americana and indiepop-Björn, as well as short visits by altrock-Björn. First song "HAZ920" sets the tone: A muffled cymbal plays a straight beat for 30 seconds until loud postrock-guitars set in that, about 60 seconds later, give way to one of the most touching and sparse folk songs I've heard in a long time. Think Bright Eyes' "First day of my life" with less liquor, much less self-pity, and much more enjambment. The albums' other songs might at first glance seem straighter in their arrangements, but second looks often reveal hidden warpedness between notes and pauses. There's a certain charming quirkiness that defines this record and one is hard-pressed to guess where it comes from: Calculation, refusal, or simply the limitations of recording in a small room on a wintery Swedish island? I'd like to think it's all of the above: Here's a musician that knows not only his how-to's but also his why-not's, who has both stories and concepts to tell. That's probably why this record is sometimes so disarmingly close to one of the ideals of pop-music: Easy to listen to but hard to fully understand.
- Arnulf Köhncke