mon 20/11/2017

CD: Man Duo - Orbit | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Man Duo - Orbit

CD: Man Duo - Orbit

Uneven electropop outing from Finnish twosome

Man Duo's 'Orbit': lift-off is not-quite achieved

True to their name, Finland’s Man Duo are male and there are two of them. The better-known half is former Helsinki tram driver Jaakko Eino Kalevi. Born Jaakko Savolainen – the Kalevi nods to his home country’s epic tale, The Kalevala – his long solo discography stretches back to 2001. That year, he made a collaborative single with Sami Toroi, who traded as Long-Sam. Following a 2012 album credited to Jaakko Eino Kalevi & Long-Sam they’re back, but as Man Duo.

Orbit isn’t going to upset those familiar with Kalevi’s most recent, internationally issued, releases. On these, he’s taken a walking, electro-soul backbeat akin to that of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and fused it with instrumentation from the dawn of Eighties electropop (arcane analogue synths and manually programmable rhythm machines) to create a moody pop – if Ariel Pink loved smooth soul and had gone electropop, this would be the result. The approach carries through into Man Duo, but a new twist is evidence for a fascination with folky melodies, vocal harmonies and a more fragmented approach to how a song unfolds – all presumably traits derived from Toroi’s input. Orbit is not a Jaakko Eino Kalevi solo album billed under another name.

In practice, this means it's uneven. The opening track “One Formula” borrows from Computer World-era Kraftwerk while “Ile’s Dream” is bedded by a motorik rhythm and nods to Harmonia. The misty “The Middle” refracts the Pet Shop Boys, while “Unter Vier Augen” is an exercise in pulsing Balearic atmospherics. On its own, each track works fine but the album doesn’t cohere. Although they have rebranded themselves as a seemingly seamless unit, Kalevi and Toroi’s partnership feels more like a project than a band as such. Perhaps taking these songs out on the road and performing them before audiences before they were recorded may have helped bring a sense of unity.

'Orbit' is uneven: the album feels more like a project than one made by a band as such

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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