Moerch - One

4 songs
18:26 minutes
***** ***


Lately I have been getting a lot of interesting pop music from Denmark. And just like the popular Scandinavian crime shows on TV, their music also shares that cold and clinical atmosphere that can probably only be obtained if you live in a close to sub-Arctic climate.

Moerch is another such project, headed by Copenhagen based artist Carsten Mørch-Bentzen who has been dabbling in various musical activities since the mid-Nineties. One is the first part of a two EP release on the Danish label 20Thirteen. The four songs have been composed back home and then went along with Carsten to Berlin where fellow Dane Jens Christian Madsen from Tjaere+Fjer (who has also already been reviewed on these pages) helped him flesh out the textures. Unlike Tjaere+Fjer, Moerch’s songs are more accessible on the surface, but that doesn’t mean that they are anything like simple of basic. But let’s just start with the opener and first single Where Is The Love which shows best what Moerch is all about. The song starts with something which is either a guitar or a very distorted and hacked up synth part, before a threatening synth bass line cuts underneath, together with a martial rhythm, to give Carsten room for his grave vocals that provide plenty of gloomy pathos. It is all the more surprising that this then gives room to a rather subtle, pleasant and somewhat lighter feeling chorus. The overall impression reminds me of androgynous music of the late Seventies and early Eighties from artists like mostly Gary Numan and to a lesser extent David Bowie.

The following City Lights repeats the formula, without falling into derivativeness. This track may have a little less gravitas than the opener, but once again displays perfectly the sonic universe of Moerch. From a lesser arranger, these would have been possibly rather inconspicuous pop songs, but the instrumentation and mostly the wise selection of sounds that contrast the cold digital world with the warmer analogous moods make for something that allows new discoveries again and again. Come On is the third single, and the only song below the four minute border. This is overall a mellower track with a wonderful bumpy and dubbed synth bass line that of course surprises again with a more rousing chorus. The final Catherina is a slightly longer track and therefore takes even more time to take in all the subtleties, details and finesses.

Even though this EP One has a very definite bedroom feeling, it doesn’t come across as amateurish. Instead the production fulfils all the conditions of a professional recording, and the combination of quite catchy songwriting with intelligent electronic and traditional instrumentation make this a very promising debut. And while Moerch is basically the solo project by Carsten Mørch-Bentzen, it should not be overlooked that he received recording help mostly by Tjaere+Fjer’s Jens Christian Madsen and also from drummer Kristoffer Rom (Oh No Ono), jazz pianist Jacob Andersskov and improvisational noise guitarist Stephan Sieben. I don’t know about you, but I am already looking forward to EP Two.

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