This is a guest post from Rob Grano.
You are unlikely to have heard of this group, or heard this song, unless you’ve watched early episodes of the TV show Justified, in one episode of which this song was played over the closing sequence. I liked it very much, but can’t remember how I tracked it down, eventually discovering that it was by a Swedish group, Miike Snow. The group consists of two Swedish multi-instrumentalists and the American singer Andrew Wyatt. I liked pretty much everything about the song – the soulful vocal, the touches of electronica, the memorable tune – and it became a new favorite.
A couple years back while looking around on Youtube I found this live version of the song and it just blew me away. The smoothness and perfection of the recording made me wonder if it were possibly lip-synched or sequenced, but the more I watched it the more it became clear to me that that wasn’t the case. There are enough variations between it and the album version to mark it out as different, not including the length, which is about two minutes greater here.
I’ve come back to the video many times, and it strikes me as a performance with an almost classical level of precision. There’s not one bad note anywhere, and while it’s possible that any flubs were fixed after production, the fact that it was a live Myspace transmission makes that seem unlikely. Of course, the recording was done through the board, so the balance we’re hearing is not what it would have sounded like live in the studio, but that’s unrelated to performance quality.
What’s also interesting to me is that nothing being played is actually acoustic except for the little xylophone-type thing. The singer is playing an electric piano, and the other guys are all working with some sort of synthesizer. To my mind this only increases the attractiveness of it, because there is unexpectedly no “coldness” to the electronics here at all. In fact it all sounds incredibly warm and organic. Yet it’s almost all electronic except for the vocals, which are lovely -- smooth and precise, close harmonies and all. Obviously the basic drum pattern is sequenced, but the rest of the sounds all are played live along with that sequenced pattern.
I could be wrong about it, but if this is a true live recording, it’s rather an amazing thing, and beautiful. I’ve never really run across anything else quite like it.
(I’d add that there is another song from the same performance on Youtube, “Animal,” which is a more energetic “techno” type thing. Very good, but not up to the level of “Sans Soleil”, in my opinion.)