Creative lyrics, outstanding mix of genres within a category, good use of special artists and their instruments/vocals.
The rules of tennis, a game revered by the Hess brothers, are simple, but the game itself can be a challenge. The excitement mounts -- the playing field refuses to be leveled. Such is the phenomenon that emerges when listening to Hess Is More’s Hits.
Compared to the Flight of the Concords duo, this Danish group has produced an album which has more of a film-soundtrack score feel than a standard electronica CD. The ten tracks are more centered around creating a mood or possibly microcosmic theatrical scenes than purveying dance tributes -- though that is alluded to frequently as well. But beyond that, the strand that emerges most often throughout is marginally burlesque-style humor, illuminated with a variety of atypical instrumentation adjoined by tongue-in-cheek utterances.
The opener, “Piano Waltz”, steadfastly serves as a preamble to what lies ahead with its sheer, ever-shifting, goose-bumpity background candy, which frames a stalwart Latin montuno. Subsequent tracks nose-dive from musical era to era.
“In The Fridge” is one example. This R&B testament full of satirical soul is enhanced by the quirky lyric “The world outside so hot I couldn’t bear it, but this is gonna be the end of me.” An assemblage of Stevie Wonder ooh-lalahs and Frank Zappa zaniness prevail.
Another paean to the absurd, “Ssshhhh”, imbues a rock’n’roll backbeat with comedic melody lines you might hear in an Elmer Fudd cartoon. And “Glove Is In The Air” passes the megaphone to Rudy Vallee with its campy glockenspieled affectation, Andy of Mayberry whistles, and jerky Django Reinhardt strings.
To this quirkery, add “Rosenkrantz & Gyldenstjerne” -- a kick-back waltz tinged with bittersweet blues harp. More wordplay ensues via “The Magic Invention From TDPRC”, with the titular line “It’s the magic invention from the divine business research center.” This is pure dance-kitsch injecting “playful” -- a term Hess uses to describe his album theme -- energy with a slathered beat.
In contrast, the six-minute repetitive mash “Would would you like to Disco?” ziplines escalating melodies and industrial layers. Gathering an otherworldly pulse, much like an unabashed Badlands tumbleweed, it unabashedly screams at you to “get off your butt”, and only the most prudent would refuse.
Hess Is More have completed 100 live shows worldwide. Composer-producer Mikkel and jazz pianist and composer Nikolaj collaborate with remix artist, musician, composer, and producer Jenno; royal concert violinist Lars Bjornkjaer; and Bang Chau, a Norwegian/Vietnamese singer and actress.
Though the album embraces a variegated patina, “Yes, Boss” is the piece most likely to succeed at your next conversation-stopping soiree. Featuring the aforementioned Chau, this duet with Mikkel is splattered with a background of rambunctous bass, unison horns, handclaps, and heady harpsichord. The steamy, sweaty vocalists racquet the ball across the net employing seductive spoken word.
Chau coyly muses, “yes, boss, I’m on the mike, I can be soft, I can be hard, let me do the beat” to Hess’ chauvinistic “That’s what I call sweet music. You’re going to have to work a little harder.” You smoulder as you wonder if, as in tennis, the score will revert to “love”.