Gee, it’s been maybe six weeks since I’ve written about some type of Einar Örn Benediktsson project and I feel like I’m going through withdrawal. OK, and that’s not even entirely true because I did post about the Rokk í Reykjavík DVD recently, and he’s featured there with his punk band Purrkur Pillnikk. What can I say? The man’s musical resume runs deep and he has been involved in so many Icelandic projects it’s almost harder to find something he hasn’t worked on. Having a Sugarcubes level of success certainly helps… and so does having your own label so you can put out what you want.
So thanks to the amazing interwebs I tracked down another obscure record Einar Örn worked on in conjunction with collaborator Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (Grindverk, Frostbite, H3ÖH), this one a 12″ called No Pain by the group calling itself Ornamental. Joining them on the project were Rose McDowell (Strawberry Switchblade) and Dave Ball (Soft Cell), making for an eclectic mix of musicians, though all of who had a reputation for being into stuff outside the mainstream.
No Pain certainly fits that description, though there are a lot of familiar sounds in this blend of new wave and industrial (industrial adult contemporary… light industrial… pop industrial…?). The beats are fast new wave… but with enough quick drum machine beats and odd metallic clanks to remind me a bit of Cabaret Voltaire. The horns also scream new wave, as does the funky bass that almost makes me think of Oingo Boingo. McDowell’s vocals are very high and modulated, reminiscent of the Bangles, and Einar’s unique brand of speaking/singing functions almost like a weird hip hop interlude late in the title track “No Pain,” which is a pretty cool dance track.
“No Pain” takes up all of side A, while the flip side has two other versions of that song (“No Pain #2 (Short Mix)” and “No Pain (Get Ready Mix)”), along with “Le Sacré D’Hiver,” a much more straight forward industrial dance track that excludes McDowell and instead is the realm of the bizarreness of Einar and his crazy horn. The pace is much faster than that of the three versions of “No Pain” and it’s a more chaotic number without the familiar pop music pieces of the title track.
One thing I know for sure – if Einar Örn is involved in something, it’s going to be interesting. And usually pretty damn good too.