My introduction to the wonderful world of `Koop' was via their sublime second album "Waltz for Koop", which was so good, I picked up their equally wonderful `Alternative takes' remix album, and wasn't actually aware of their first album until several months after. But it is actually a hard to find and deleted album, so I'd held not much hope of picking up a copy. Fast forward several more months, and I'd managed to find a second hand copy, and had I known earlier of this albums brilliance, I would have made a far more concerted effort to find a copy.
Firstly it should be noted that this album is stylistically & musically a different beast from the second album, with less of the upbeat vocal jazz, and the lush orchestration that earmarked the second album. In favour of a more brooding, almost melancholic sound, that sounds not to dissimilar to something like `Portishead' with more of a jazz leaning. It doesn't recall Portishead's gloomiest moments, but there is a more detached feel that was abandoned for the later albums. Creators 'Magnus Zingmark' and 'Oscar Simonsson'
layer this album with a thick smoky jazz feel, and thus musically its melancholic and slow, dark and cold, silent and lonely, yet beautiful and emotional. With none of the upbeat summery jazz of something like the "Summer Sun" track from Waltz for Koop, and it's not a long album either, with only 10 tracks making up the album, this is an album to be savoured. With evocative songs, with a minimalist production aesthetic, that would be later expanded and fleshed out on later albums.
If you've enjoyed both "Waltz for Koop" & "Alternative Takes", don't buy this thinking it'll be more of the same, as the sound is undeniably gritty, and Loose, and less tightly focused, than the later albums, and shares more in common with "Portishead, Lamb & Björk", whilst it still retains some of what would define later albums (such as an impeccable ear for a musical hook, emotional vocals, finely tuned arrangements & fantastic production). Those not knowing what to expect, may well be disappointed in the more subdued sound. But taken as an album in it's own right, this is easily as fantastically (and well rounded) an album as the later 2 albums, and maybe (just maybe) nudges ahead of them both. In fact I'd go so far as to say that it is more than worthy of the high import price Amazon are charging for it!!......an utterly fantastic album.