We’ve made absolutely no secret here at The Line Of Best Fit of just how much we love When Saints Go Machine, and indeed how the anticipation for Konkylie, their first full length release on British shores, has been absolutely killing us. Formed in 2007, When Saints Go Machine released their debut album in their native Denmark in 2009. It wasn’t released in the UK, so as a consolation prize, the group offered us the Fail Forever EP, a collection of 5 tantilisingly atmospheric synth-led tunes. Konkylie, therefore, is the first opportunity for those in other lands to hear exactly what it is that this band of childhood friends want to release into the world, in a neatly packaged, pristine, methodically crafted full length album. After an intensely long wait, Konkylie is ready to be revealed.
The album opens with the title track, which instantly sets the tone for what’s about to be uncovered on this album. The melody is provided by a muted synth, as a fairly complex vocal takes the centre stage. The track eventually develops into a building vocal and tonal exploration, with sampled vocals creating the musical backdrop and haunting tone of the song before leading into the second track.
‘Church And Law’, (the video of which can be seen here) starts up with a glorious, brightly sung introduction, which resides over a sinister undertone created by a slightly discordant piano and vocal pairing. The intro is interrupted by a sparse bass-tone synth which leads into the main body of the track, before a steady, 90s house style synth leads into the hypnotic ear worm that this song boasts as a chorus. ‘Church and Law’ is easily one of the stand out tunes from this collection – an instantly gratifying, laid back electronic piece packed full of soul, irresistable synth sounds and a huge chorus.
And just as you think that the album couldn’t possibly penetrate your musical senses anymore, the introduction to ‘Parix’ begins. The vocals are incredibly rhythmic throughout this song, with a massive bass line and gently driving synth-led backing track. ‘Parix’ is a perfect example of why the creation of Konkylie was a two year process. Each track is masterfully crafted together with simplistic, yet poignant, highly affecting moments constructing each song.
A really endearing element to the music on this album, and something that has continually stood out during encounters with When Saints Go Machine, are the vocals. As gentle as they are striking and as soft as they are invigorating, Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild’s vocals seduce and entrance from the moment the record begins. There’s an evident amount of love that has gone into these vocal lines – rhythmically, melodically and with a style that flits somewhere in between Antony Hegarty and Dan Snaith. The tenderness and thought invested in the lyrics is what sets When Saints Go Machine apart from their peers, and the stories behind the songs pull at your heartstrings just as much as the melodies do.
Konkylie is and album which travels through all kinds of emotions – from the light pop of ‘Kelly’, through to the tender, yearning ‘Add Ends’ – always maintaining a charging spirit, a burning passion and a genuine warmth. It feels like a very organic progression from the Fail Forever EP, as the rhythms slow and become less charging to make space for a more understated, yet engaging effort. The album works incredibly well as a whole, adding soul and heart to a genre which is often considered to be quite clean and cold. The tracks on Konkylie aren’t as instantly danceable as those on previous releases, but they are rich and understatedly cool.
Subtle, emotionally charged and carefully constructed, Konkylie has very much lived up to the high expectations that we had reserved for this band. This is an album to sink into, to wrap yourself up in and to allow to wash over you. Konkylie was two years in the making – an excrutiating wait, but definitely worth it.