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Collapsing Universe

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Album Review

Differnet's 2007 album finds the Swedish quartet again grappling with compositions that don't quite comfortably fit into any obvious form of popular music — crackling sounds of insects and general everyday noise meshes with slow cascades of synth strings and an extremely slow, deliberate rhythm before suddenly breaking into a vocal and drums break that could be a nervous soundtrack to a car chase. And this is all on the first song "Pattern of Parklands," which still doesn't describe everything in the piece — without specifically pushing sonic boundaries Differnet here again demonstrate more of the possibilities to be found in flowing collages of styles that reincorporate familiar rock, dance and other moves into a more modern approach. Anna Karin Brus' calm vocals take on various roles throughout the record, from gently dramatic declamation to delicate counterpoint to rough electronic bass, all with the air of being something somehow a little electronic — it's hardly a new move in recent years, but instead of the aggressive embrace of Autotune or vocoders, it's almost a reminder of technological incorporation in everyday life. Set against the evolving arrangements song for song — the slick glitch punch and Cocteau Twins-style guitar that end up concluding "Caring Arms," the ominous slow alarm melody that starts "Survival Kit" — it gives a sense of flowing process, a continuous work. "Electricity (Is Not What It Used to Be)," besides having a great title, allows the group to show other deep roots, with occasional guitar breaks that are pure Cure (and a bit of New Order) slipping among the sparkling beats. Meanwhile, in a striking move, a cover of the Eurythmics' "Savage" gives Brus a chance to sing the lyrics in an even cooler, compressed fashion, suffused with unsettling threat, while the murky arrangement is prone to suddenly burst out with everything from drum-n-bass explosions to random clatter.


Formed: 2000 in Sweden

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

A Swedish trio that started with the new millennium, Differnet had at their start two performers: Tomas Bodén, general mastermind and arranger with keyboards as his main instrument, and Peter Jackson -- nothing to do with the noted New Zealand film director -- on guitar, flute, and vocals. As with many groups of the century's first decade, Differnet's approach was an exploration of the ground between restrained, low-key indie rock and electronic approaches derived from Warp Records and similarly...
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