Colour vinyl press
I may have missed a trick here (not the first time), but i mainly know of Ellen Arkbro for her wordless, drone-based minimalism, so what a surprise to hear this new collaboration with Johan Graden, an evocatively-expressed suite of torch song compositions. The pair worked together on both of Arkbro's fantastic solo records, but you can see why Graben's name is now on the front of the record - this is a change of pace for the two as collaborators. The pair lead an ensemble cast of musicians, playing all manner of woodwind and brass instruments, and Graben's piano-led interventions are graceful and inventine, but it's the voice that's the guiding star here. Arkbro's vocal is rich and yearning, leaning into each extended note with the same droning intonation of her instrumental work, the result emotionally affecting and, despite the ornate musical accompaniment, still feels sparse and slow-moving. The label are calling this a 'surprise pop album', which is a pretty ambitious extension of the concept of pop, but if you consider These New Puritans' Field of Reeds or Julia Holter's Tragedy positioned somewhere on that axis, or even The Durutti Column's version of the song from which this album takes its title, then they might well have a point. I get along without you very well, sure, but together Arkbro and Graben do even better.