Okay, so maybe I was a little harsh on Honduras when I described them as the nondescript country in the World Cup. It was true, sure, but it was harsh. There are, after all, no small number of European countries with diminutive personalities taking part, and unfortunately, today I have to turn to one that haven’t played a game in the tournament in a week, since they were beaten comprehensively by Japan. I, of course, decided to write about them at the time, since I expected Denmark to progress. D’oh. Why, I’ve almost made as big an idiot of myself as this prick!
Denmark’s music scene is arguably the most notable thing about it right now, as it happens. You might be shocked to realize how many Danish acts you know – Aqua, The Ravonettes, the shit one out of Metallica, Mercyful Fate, and Junior Senior are just five you should all have heard of, and that’s before you get to Mew. Truthfully, I was determined NOT to post anything by Jonas Bjerre’s rag-tag mob of foppish art students, simply because they’re so big within the Sputnik community, but I’ve reneged for one reason; I’ve realized that their best song, which dated way back from 1997, will have been missed by a big chunk of the fans who found them via Frengers and And the Glass Handed Kites. So for those people….here it is.
Outside of the staunchest rock and metal worlds, what’s most interesting about Danish music to foreign ears is the way it’s kept hold of its folk roots, with a raft of artists seemingly making a conscious effort to absorb back into whatever genres they attempt – Efterklang, Wuthering Heights, Lars Hilholt, Per Nørgård, and even Aqua have made attempts, however slight or subtle, to bring Danish folk traditions into their sound. The underlying appreciation for traditional folk sounds is such that even the country’s token massive dance hit – Safri Duo’s “Played A Live” – boast some decidedly ethnic drumming, even if it wasn’t of Danish origin. This song is by one of the acts who pull it off most blatantly, Sorten Muld – it’s folktronica that acknowledges both sides of the portmanteau, rather than settling for something in the middle.
Denmark can also boast a rich history of classical music – they may not have any megastars, but names like Carl Nielsen, Dieterich Buxtehude, Thomas Laub, and Hans Christian Lumbye will be familiar in classical circles, and both Poul Ruders and the aforementioned Per Nørgård have earned themselves a significant number of devoted fans with recent compositions. For now, though, I’m going to turn toward Else Marie Pade. Admittedly, this is partly because it’s incredibly rare that you get to shine light on a female classical composer, but it’s also because she sits right at the heart of one of the most endlessly fascinating periods of music ever – the time when art music got it hands on technology for the first time and started putting it through its pace. This, from 1962, shows the under-rated Pade as a true contemporary of Stockhausen, Varese et al.