Benni Hemm Hemm: Murta St. Calunga (Kimi) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Benni Hemm Hemm

Murta St. Calunga


Sep 01, 2009 Benni Hemm Hemm Bookmark and Share

For his third album, Benedikt H. Hermannsson, aka Benni Hemm Hemm, headed to Murta St. Calunga. While Google searches indicate that this isn’t a real place, it’s difficult to not crave a respite in Hermannsson’s beautiful, orchestral-pop filled land.

At heart a solo project, Benni Hemm Hemm’s ranks often balloon up to a collective that rivals I’m From Barcelona in size—if not enthusiasm. On Murta St. Calunga, Hermannsson’s group of players provide a surprisingly delicate string and horn interplay that recalls Beirut with a sense of humor—or Sufjan Stevens at his lushest. While Benni Hemm Hemm’s well-used, song-long crescendo structure might be done more affectively by fellow Scandinavian Loney Dear, it would be difficult not to admit the album’s sweet predictability doesn’t prove a meditative quality.

Aside from notable exceptions, “Whaling in the North Atlantic” and “Early Morning Rain,” the majority of Murta St. Calunga is sung in Hermannsson’s native Icelandic. Strangely—perhaps owing in part to Hermannsson’s Jens Lekman-like delivery—this does not affect its narrative quality. A project not unlike Sigur Rós, Benni Hemm Hemm is more about inflection and tone as it is words and meaning—making Murta St. Calunga a universally desirable daydream. (

Author rating: 7/10

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