Restored 29 May 2017, originally published 01 October 2014
Klaus Lunde, AKA Xerxes, is a prolific producer. With more than 400 purported tracks to his name and more than 11 albums on his Bandcamp page, that he managed to stay under my radar is remarkable. Maybe it’s the fact that his music reaches into the IDM genre more than most of what’s in my library. Or maybe he hates free publicity. Whatever the reason, his catalog contains oodles of material to explore.
His latest releases — Scarecrow, Let Silence Roam, and First Ray of Light — are collaborative efforts with fellow Norwegian singer/songwriter/composer Marthe Borge-Lunde Pfirrmann, AKA Phoenix (not to be confused with the Phoenix of indie pop fame). These albums sound like the love-children of British trip-hop and Scandinavian electronica: silky female vocals, chill vibes, and sundry beats, synths, and melodies. If you like an enchanting female voice in your downtempo electronica, it would be a mistake to ignore these.
Xerxes’ solo efforts are as diverse and enigmatic as the various cover art seems to convey. In general, his music is bears characteristics of chill out, IDM, and ambient. Whether a track is relaxing or energetic depends, of course, on that track’s tempo, but the atmospheric elements are present throughout many of the albums. Since there are so many, I’ll briefly review just a few.
Directions contains five tracks ranging from the highly danceable “Doctor Awesome”, to the sublimely relaxing remix of Jonas Kroon’s “Her Er Eg” (which is highly repeatable), and even to the surprisingly Anime-ish sound of “Scene Satellites”. I guess the various directions he took in this release shouldn’t be too surprising considering its title.
Droplets of Water listens like a storm. Clouds and the smell of rain come with “Instructions from Rale”. The water begins to fall with “Lakitian” and picks up the pace with “Command Shift” before a full-on deluge with a remix of Hansee’s “Break”. “Toy Box”, on the other hand, is calmer, like a fine mist. The album is bookended by the glitched “Cube”, a collaboration between Xerxes and Jonas Kroon.
Xerxes’ most popular offering (as indicated by number of listens on Last.fm) is The Mirror Formula. This album shifts from their typical blend of IDM + ambient by downplaying the higher-energy beats into a supportive, structural role while emphasizing the ambient elements. “Can You See This?” and “Angelina” illustrate this shift most clearly by showcasing slow, string-based melodies before gradually picking up the tempo with the introduction of relatively simple beats.
Beyond these albums, there is a handful of Selected Works all with a dozen tracks or more.
My experience with Xerxes’, from discovery to digestion, was like hitting the mother lode in a goldmine. I was always looking for it (though unaware of what it was). When I found it, I could hardly believe there was so much of it.
Xerxes & Phoenix – Let Silence Roam – “Silence Arise”
Xerxes – Directions – remix of Jonas Kroon’s “Her Er Eg”
Xerxes – The Mirror Formula – “Can You See This?”
Official site where you can find to the albums (except Let Silence Arise)