When Saints Go Machine – Konkylie

January 01, 1970





A new competitor for the
Antony Hegarty Memorial “Most Delicate Falsetto in a Disco Setting” award has
emerged from the unlikely environs of Copenhagen.
Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild may not be a bird now or ever, but he’s got the same
quavery vulnerability, the same whispery flamboyance as Hegarty, against the
same sleek, strobe-lit dance vibes as Hercules & Love Machine.


Vonsild is the most
visible member of Danish four-piece When Saints Go Machine. The new album is
named for a conch shell, but put this beach flotsam to your ear and you’re more
likely to hear shivery synths and percolating electro keyboards than any kind
of ocean. Their sound is super clean, super sharp, but with a touch of the
mystic. The titular opener takes shape like a lost Talk Talk outtake, Vonsild’s
voice fluttering in chilled landscapes of electro-tones. Later, “Cut By the
Same Scissors” floats right off the dance floor and into epiphany. Its
tremolo’d synths and Gnostic verses make a case for human connectivity, even as
its drum machines urge the hips to shift. Concluding track “Adds and Ends” is
even more spiritually evocative, its friction-y pizzicato string lines
dissolving into lush, synthetic vistas, all lost, as Vonsild trills, “in yellow


Elsewhere When Saints Go
Machine veers hedonistic, cranking up percolating electro-beats and sunny,
super-pop melodies. No track does this better than “Kelly”, whose bounce and
exuberance brings to mind Cut Copy, or, if you’re really old, Abba. Still,
“Jets” is almost as much fun with its Lucite-coated samba beat and glittery,
super-clear runs of electric keyboard.


Whether When Saints Go
Machine is reaching for enlightenment or shaking its collective bootie,
however, the effect is polished and sensual, its melodies wrapped in diaphanous
washes, its slinky rhythms muted under baroque vocal flourishes. It’s hard to
say whether When Saints Go Machine is best suited for dancing, thinking or
making out — but probably best not to try all three at once.


“Kelly” “Adds and Ends” JENNIFER

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