Pale Collection

support Katinka
author AP date 21/11/14 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Nowadays, more often than not the concerts I attend feature bands heavy and/or fast in style, so naturally, when the opportunity presents itself to watch something different altogether, it's difficult to say no. Such was the case this past Friday with the little known Pale Collection, whose style is perhaps best described as a fusion of brit pop and trip hop. The usual horns, headbanging and moshpits were thus exchanged for a moodier setting framed in the garage like confines of KB18. The opening act, Katinka is not reviewed here as I feel their relevance to our readership is minimal, but if dreamy pop music is up your alley, they're certainly not the worst representative of such music that I've seen.

Photos courtesy of Philip B. Hansen

Pale Collection

Featuring six members and two session vocalists constituting a choir, no space is left unoccupied on the venue's tiny stage by Pale Collection, and for once, the entirety of the lighting rig is put to use in creating the appropriate atmosphere for the group's melancholy tunes. There isn't much by way of a wild performance, but then such slow and atmospheric music as this hardly demands it. Instead, it is in the soulful singing of frontman Daniel Aasted, the effect laden, twangy axework of guitarists Simon Ask Ladekarl & Anders Søe (the latter of whom also doubles on trombone at times to scintillating effect), the dozy rumble of Egil Gräs' bass, the dainty swathes of Marco Twellmann Zara's keyboard, and drummer Frederik Rahbek's solid rhythmic foundation that one must look for the real rewards.

Yet at the same time, the band have this collective idea of how they want to carry themselves on stage, and especially in the greyest, most downcast picks off tonight's setlist (which seems to encompass the full extent of Pale Collection's repertoire), it's easy to see the band's total immersion in their own songs. This is hypnotic stuff, yet it avoids the pitfall of too much suffocating melancholy by the clever infusion of brit pop energy into a number of the songs, and the ordering of the songs thus ensures that when the set threatens to lapse into the depressive, there's always a more upbeat or brisk track to restore the balance. It is always admirable to witness a young band willing to explore a wide variety of stylistic directions so early in their career, and indeed, as the show progresses I find in it nuances that recall everything from Portishead to Radiohead and Muse.

Arguably, there are times when Pale Collection sound almost too similar to Portishead, who no doubt have played a significant role as an influence for the band's music. But rather than dig out the negative connotations in this, it strikes me that the level both of songwriting and technical ability that these musicians possess is staggering. Already at such an early stage in their career, Pale Collection perform like a band with years of live experience behind them, the numerous seductive vocal harmonies between Aasted and his choir vocalists Kevin Koch & Sofie Søe in particular striking an instant chord with my trip hopping heart (the latter could perhaps be afforded an even bigger role in the band in the future, if you ask me).

The show is tastefully low key in all of its aspects and would go down as nigh perfect were it not for the issues in the sound mix: the guitars are persistently difficult to hear, especially when Søe & Ladekarl are caught in the most intricate passages Pale Collection's music has to offer, with the result that the spotlight invariably rests on Aasted's impassioned singing. Be that as it may, however, there is huge potential here, and I pray the right industry people were in attendance taking notes. Music such as this would fit the likes of Roskilde Festival like a glove, and given there isn't exactly a burgeoning trip hop scene in Denmark, there's little to obstruct the band provided they continue to hone their prowess.

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