One of the very best aspects of music is its capacity for escapism, the ability of a piece of music transporting you to another sacred place or time. The music made by Copenhagen songwriter Søren Løkke Juul, who records under the name Indians shares that same special ability and it makes his debut as Indians an album worth treasuring.
Somewhere Else is entirely the vision of Løkke Juul, he only started performing as Indians in February of last year but you get the feeling these songs have been gestating in his mind for years and years as he honed them to perfection. Signing with 4AD was perhaps the elusive missing piece in Løkke Juul’s puzzle. The windswept isolation of Indian’s work is a perfect fit for 4AD’s carefully cultivated, decade’s old aesthetic. Indians now join fellow Scandinavians Efterklang on 4AD’s impressive roster.
Somewhere Else is defined by a strong sense of personal reflection, dolorous melancholy and an alluring sense of wonder all coalescing together on a record of at times striking beauty. The instrumentation is mostly sparse, every sound and distinct instrument is delicate and unobtrusive. It is a record that slowly envelops you and draws you deeper in with every listen.
Opening track New is a very special introduction. The song is built around gently swelling organ, which accompanies Søren’s expressive vocals. The song builds gradually to a choral like crescendo with Søren singing about a transcendent experience, which “gives meaning to it all.”
It’s very easy to draw comparisons with label mate Bon Iver, but while Somewhere Else shares a very intimate sound with Justin Vernon’s earliest material, much like Bon Iver’s debut the album was recorded in a secluded countryside location, there is a sense of graceful grandeur to the albums most affecting moments. Songs like bird, with its unadorned piano figure, have a lovely balletic quality to them, aligned with a number of ghostly swirling effects it makes for a distinctly atmospheric and bewitching proposition.
There is a mystery to this record that leaves you enticed throughout. On certain songs like the desolate and detached Magic Kids, there is doubt and fear as Søren sings with a quivering voice, “you’re eyes do not see me anymore.” Elsewhere the feeling is of hope as expressed on Lips Lips Lips, a truly lovely fluttering piece built on the slightest of musical foundations. Here, Søren sings, “the dark is coming to an end.”
It’s clear throughout the album that Søren Løkke Juul is a musician of innumerable talents, equally adept at darkly folksy laments – I am Haunted and beautifully haunting electronic ballads – la Femme. The latter is particularly impressive as bubbling synth sounds make a dizzyingly mesmerising pattern. Perhaps most impressively is the way he intertwines both facets of his musical pattern into one lucid and compelling whole.
Somewhere Else is a perfect album to soundtrack snowy wintry nights. As the blizzards sweep unrelentingly and the landscape resembles desolate icy tundra, Indians music can provide an escape, it can provide 45 minutes in a gloriously otherworldly dream. As such, it is a debut album of real class.