Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Music We Love: “Elska – Middle of Nowhere”

The Icelandic word elska means “to love” which is no small coincidence. After I listened to Elska - Middle of Nowhere, I had cartoon hearts floating over my head. This disc is the real deal: an actual (and interesting) concept disc for young listeners that’s tuneful, thought provoking, and endearing.

Taken as a whole, the songs on the disc tell the story of the imaginary volcanic island of Elska, located just off the coast of Iceland. The fictional character who is also known as Elska is a modern pioneer who lives on this newly formed Arctic island. Song by song, this album transports the listener onto Elska’s isle. The sound is as clean and crisp as newly fallen snow, a sparkling modern pop soundscape filled with hand-made micro-beats, synthesizers, and Elska’s dreamy, heartfelt vocals. There’s a smattering of electronica combined with the sound of a celesta (or is it a glockenspiel) accompanying vocals that sound as if Björk is singing lead for ABBA, but minus the corn.

My favorite cut is “Arctic Fox,” with lyrics that include, “An arctic fox slept on my head last night. I lost some sleep but I don’t regret it.” Other tunes make explicit reference to a land of snow like, “Winter Bear,” “Midnight Sun in The Arctic,” “The Elska Express,” and “Frozen in Time.” Other songs paint a picture of whimsical aspects of the island such as “The Land of Lost Socks.” As the lyrics reassure us, “You don’t need to study sock-ology” to visit. And when you visit the island of Elska, just say “Hiddi Hiddi” to anyone you meet. That’s “hello” in “Elskan” and also a popping little electronica number that sounds like a tune Santa’s (cooler) elves would sing around a bonfire.

See for yourself right here:

I’m crazy about this disc. Elska is the brainchild of singer/actress Shelley Wollert and producer Allen Farmelo. Wollert, who embodies the character of Elska, feels that, “Creating an entire imaginary world is also creating a safe place where children can go with their imaginations, for the length of a song or the duration of an album. My objective is to paint as realistic a picture as possible of all of the beauty on the island.” She and Farmelo have succeeded handsomely. And this is truly a family disc. You will enjoy it at least as much as your kids. It’s a perfect disc for cooler weather and I’m already thinking this would make a great holiday gift. Listening to Elska – Middle of Nowhere, I can think of nothing better than the first snap of winter.

We’re giving away the cd Elska – Middle of Nowhere. Just leave a comment to this story with a way to reach you (email preferred) by 5pm EST on Friday, October 19th. And good luck!

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