In order for a live album to work, the songs must be able to transport the listener to somewhere that he or she wouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t be able to go on the studio album. With a group like Danish post-whatever rockers Under Byen, thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s a task much easier said than done given their expansive and dynamic 2006 effort, Samme Stof Som Stof. Rather than try to recreate or surpass previous voyages, theyâ€šÃ„Ã´ve settled for creating a scenic (if not completely satisfying) detour with the EP Siamesisk. In a move reminiscent of Portisheadâ€šÃ„Ã´s own transcendent live triumph, PNYC, Under Byen drafted the 42-piece Danish Radio Sinfonietta to breathe new life into five songs from their repertoire, four of which come from Samme. The results manage to be equally haunting and hypnotic, like the best works of kindred spirit bands Sigur Ros and Mum.
â€šÃ„ÃºAf Samme Stof Som Stofâ€šÃ„Ã¹ in particular transforms into a swirling mini-epic with muscular horns and cinematic swells of strings. Another highlight is the softly seething title track, evoking chilling memories of Massive Attack that they themselves havenâ€šÃ„Ã´t been able to recall since Mezzanine. While never quite escaping the shadow of Bjork vocally, Henriette Sennenwalt admirably holds her own throughout the beefed-up arrangements with an almost alien fragility in her delivery.
Yet at a mere five songs, Siamesisk is far too short a journey given the obvious potential the orchestral accompaniments open up for the band, especially when Samme standouts like â€šÃ„ÃºFilm of Omvendtâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºPaladsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ are sorely missing. Trying to create a cohesive concert experience for listeners rather than patching together songs and applause may have elevated this EP to something more essential. Nevertheless, the treatment of the material that is present is too good to ignore. After all, itâ€šÃ„Ã´s better to be left wanting more than to simply be left wanting.