After a brief stop-over at Estonia we continue our musical travelogue with a trip to Bergen, Hordaland, Norway - home of the experimental 7 piece alternative band Funin, fronted by female vocalist Marit Elisabeth Svendsboe.
Funin's 2011 release "Unsound" is a collection of 10 avant garde tunes, combining eerie dissonant vocals with spacey industrial electronics and organic instrumentation (such as cello, flute and violin), which should appeal to fans of such artists as Bjork, Radiohead, Paatos, Caravan, Robert Wyatt, and Landberk.
First let me state for the record that Funin is not the type of band I usually review here at Prognaut, since alternative experimental pop is not my forte - nor my cup of tea. But I'll give anything a listen and an honest opinion. Even at the risk of ruffling a few feathers.
The vocals on "Unsound" are the reason I shy away from alternative artists like Bjork - the obvious source of inspiration for Marit Elisabeth Svendsboe. I personally find that dissonant off-key soprano vocal style annoying, and prefer a melodic vocalist like: Annie Haslam, Kate Bush, Sally Oldfield, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), Lana Lane, Amanda Parsons, Tracy Hitchings (Strangers On A Train), Amy Lee (Evanescence), Christina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) or Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation).
Even the male vocalist Gaute Stedje seems plagued by wavering pitch problems, leading me to believe this vocal style is exactly what the band strives to achieve. And if that's the case - Funin hit the bulls-eye dead center. His vocal style is reminiscent of Roger Waters or Neil Young.
Instrumentally the band comes across as quite cinematic and something I'd usually enjoy. But occasionally the vocals grate like fingernails across a chalkboard.
On the plus side, the tune "Everything" is a genuine stand-out track with an excellent hook, bringing to mind the classic prog group "Curved Air". The vocals are even tolerable and work well within the framework of the tune. As does "Last Day", another stand-out track where the off-kilter jazzy vocal style augments the tone and atmosphere. Maybe a little goes a long way.
The dark eerie track "Machine" could pass for something on a "Devil Doll" CD if you were to replace the bizarre Italian vocalist Mr. Doctor with Marit Elisabeth Svendsboe.
"Inch Of Me" combines ambient symphonic space rock ala Dol Theeta (see my review for "The Universe Expands") with the industrial bombastics of Ministry or Skinny Puppy.
Members include: Marit Elisabeth Svendsboe (vocals, flute), Oyvind Vie Berg (piano), Gaute Stedje (vocals, guitar), Sissel Orstavik (violin), Audun Berg Selfjord (cello), Edvard Mjanger (bass), and Mats Maeland Jensen (drums).
For fans of Bjork and adventurous alternative rock with experimental jazz overtones.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on February 27th, 2012