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- Posted on Feb 18th 2010 12:00AM by Stuart Berman
Such was the case at Samfunnsalen, a gorgeous third-floor banquet hall bedecked in teak and several paintings of stern-looking but presumably important Norwegian men. It proved to be the ideal setting in which to be introduced to ambient-doom-metal outfit Altaar and atmospheric jazz-punk quartet Chrome Hill.
While a shared saxophone player provided a tenuous link between those two bands, both were highly incongruous set-ups for the evening's main attraction (judging by the sudden influx of young dancing girls), lysergic Danish pop quintet Oh No Ono.
They're one of the few by:Larm acts to have already secured a deal outside Scandinavia (their new sophomore release, 'Eggs' was issued in North America via Brooklyn-based indie Friendly Fire), but the band's ecstatic performance, and the rapturous response it elicited, suggested that Oh No Ono is poised to poke their well-coiffed heads overground (or at least to win over a few wayward MGMT fans tired of waiting for that band's second album.)
They've certainly got the bizarro stagewear to match their retro/futurist sound. Hofner-sporting bassist Nis Svoldgaard re-imagines Paul McCartney as a member of A Flock of Seagulls, while rainbow-poncho-draped singer/guitarist Malthe Fischer resembles a young David Bowie caught between his folkie and Ziggy phases.
But where Bowie simply made his Ziggy look like an alien, Oh No Ono sing like them, coming off like a crew of munchkin-voiced intergalactic visitors who've processed the history of psychedelic pop -- from the Beatles to ELO to the Flaming Lips -- into hyperactive, shape-shifting songs that filter those classic influences through squelching synths and uncannily precise three-way harmonies.
In lesser hands, this could all come off as overly cloying and cute, but there's an inherently strange quality to Oh No Ono that leaves you unnerved and transfixed all the same. When the band sing in unison, "I have seen the queen with her puppy/ She's already done a movie about me," you're not sure if you want to pinch their cheeks or alert the authorities.