Hogni already makes music as GusGus and Hjaltalin, but that just wasn’t enough for him, so here he is with a new outlet. As Hogni, he’s doing something different, crooning in a futuristic R&B style over busy instrumentals that mix classical music and electronic experimentation. Two Trains is very cinematic stuff.
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Icelandic experimentalist Hogni already has projects as GusGus and Hjaltalin but his newest and haughtiest work deserves its own alias, eh? Mixing deep, choral vocals that feel remote and church-like with soaring pop tunes and production beds a la newer, more lopsided R&B, he creates a record quite endless with possibilities, responsive to about a dozen different things going on in modern songwriting.
“Shed Your Skin” is something straight outta last year’s pop music, it’s soft acoustic strums and serene melodies getting dunked with throbbing breakdowns of broken basslines, a la Bjork, Anohni and Arca. Hogni’s in good company, then, proving he can match the sound of heartbreak to a complete abstraction of it. With deep, operatic vocals interspersed through the record’s noisy pop landscape -- sometimes as its own thing, but often as a backdrop for songs proper -- the record becomes a mess of anachronistic languages.
Chaos and emotion are good together: who knew? This record matches off its sleekness and cataclysm in a way that now feels quite natural -- a way of making heartbreak music that never resolves neatly, and never delivers full catharsis. Instead, this record remains tense through every corner-darkening string movement and stinging beat. Get out of touch with your emotions on your way to the other side of this record.
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