I remember the Y2K bug. I wrote about it, and its possible ills. In my defence, I was paid to, but I know - what sort of defence is that?
I never really believed that mankind was doomed, but I did expect slightly more than a malfunctioning smart fridge and the odd inaccurate clock here and there. Luckily mankind was ok, and there was little confusion about whether it was 2000 or 1970.
Able to relax, I joined the collective post-millennial chill-out session. I used Hed Kandi collections as relaxants: Serve Chilled, Summer Chill, Winter Chill - any kind of chill would do. I caught a wave of the so-called New Acoustic Movement. Seldom has such an inoffensive fabricated collective caused such furious anger among the cognoscenti. Hard to fathom really: how do you get so het up about the first Turin Brakes LP? How do you hate Kings of Convenience? How do you hate their calm, quiet (is the new loud), serene approach to generating such gentle waves of sound, so softly lapping around you?
In March 2001, Norwegians Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe released their debut album, Quiet is the New Loud. Its twelve tracks seldom stray far from gentle acoustic picking and strumming, and hushed vocals; percussion and the jazzy muted trumpet of Singing softly to me are exceptions rather than the rule.
Later that same year, a remix album, Versus was released. It recasts the acoustic calm in mellow shades of electronica, with remixes from the likes of Royksopp, Four Tet and Andy Votel.
Four Tet took The Weight of My Words and transformed it from a longing acoustic duet into something less certain, and somehow even lighter than the dulcet original.
And people called it folktronica and decided fairly quickly it wasn’t really for them. Almost as soon, they decided they didn’t want anything more to do with that whole new acoustic stuff either, and Turin Brakes, Kings of Convenience and the rest shuffled away quietly.
And being quiet and shy, they haven’t exactly been banging on the door lately insisting on being played. Erlend Øye released a curious solo album that was pleasant without quite having the necessary hooks, and has released excellent singles such as The Black Keys Work as well as providing vocals for anyone who asks, but although Kings of Convenience released a further two albums - Riot on an Empty Street and Declaration of Independence - neither made waves outside Norway. Except in Italy, where both albums went top 10, because Italians, clearly, go for their laid-back chilled-out style…