The intricate, richly textured folktronica of Norwegian singer-songwriter Farao, aka Kari Jahnsen, has stimulated a gentle yet insistent bubble of hype that has been growing steadily for some time now.
A string of well-received EPs and singles has paved the way for this, her debut LP, entitled Till It’s All Forgotten – and many will be eager to hear whether her considerable charms retain their power over the course of a full-length album.
Happily, they do, at least for the most part. Instrumentally, Jahnsen is brimming with ideas, and the duration of this LP allows the necessary time and space for these to be developed, manipulated and layered over one another. The quality of this record that is both most immediately striking and enduringly satisfying is its mastery of rhythm: almost every track here is founded upon a sinuous, shifting groove, all of which do very well to strike the delicate balance between ear-catching invention and song-supporting subtlety. These percussion parts often take centre stage, threatening to dominate full songs (particularly “Bodies” and the album’s final track, “Are You Real?”), but rarely at the expense of the contour or harmonic content of the album as a whole.
The only problem with Farao’s endless rhythmic invention is that it does somewhat overshadow her lyrics and vocal melodies. The guitars, keys and programming on the record are amply strong enough to hold their own against the relentless tide of percussion, yet occasionally her vocals fall slightly short. Jahnsen’s voice is undeniably lovely, and her dreamy, descriptive lyrics are often affecting in their evocation, yet sometimes they lack the conviction required to stand out over their excellent accompaniments. By no means is this always the case – the Atoms for Peace-esque “Hunter” for example, features a beautiful vocal performance, with delicate harmonies and windblown synths caressing Jahnsen’s naked-sounding voice before the track descends into a dark, irresistible drum-led strut.
Till It’s All Forgotten is a fine debut, showcasing an artist of remarkable invention and instrumental talent. Its aforementioned flaws are minor qualms, rooted only in a desire for Farao to realise the considerable potential she has shown elsewhere on this record and on previous releases. When she comes to fulfil her great promise, as she surely will, Kari Jahnsen will truly be a force to be reckoned with.