Henriette Sennenvaldt has the most lonesome voice I’ve ever heard. It has an ache that sounds abandoned, but waiting behind that voice is a group of strings, drum skins and an army of instruments not heard everyday. The Danish band’s sound borders on genius and madness. For example, Under Byen’s violinist Nils Gröndahl performs a pitzicado plucking technique on the intro to "Den her sang handler om at få det bedste ud af det” (translated to “This Song is About Making the Best of It”) and immediately you wonder what the hell you’re getting yourself into. The violin dissolves into Herieete’s cadence that can melt any doubter of instrumental rock. It’s a hypnotic lullaby, whose Danish lyrics are lost to me, but beautiful nonetheless. A friend translated them for me and I was immediately reminded of Alice In Wonderland.
It all feels very much like an expression on a windowpane during a rainstorm. It’s a bit doleful, what with the strings played on the flat scale and something of a slow beat that would throw off any metronome. Synthesizers aligning up with a violin and a cello are not unheard of, but never has it sounded so beautiful. If you close your eyes, you can almost picture a tumultuous parade, floating on the very notes that Under Byen produce. And you think, maybe that’s a saw being played and it is! And you begin to doubt yourself, because it’s too good to be true.
A certain feeling of euphoria mixes with narcolepsy. Somewhere on this album, you get the feeling that this band isn’t the most uplifting group of people to hang out with. It’s melancholy. But when do geniuses have to be uplifting people?
By Nathan Solis