The debut release from European duo The Green Children is out now and I’ve been playing it on repeat since it arrived. I’m a sucker for atmospheric dream-pop when it’s done right and “Encounter” is the gauzy goods.
The 12-track set avoids the annoying mope that often weighs down ethereal pop releases. The lyrics are evocative and the mood is restrained, to be sure, but the songs appreciably steer clear of dour. Instead, the focus is kept on Norway native Milla Sunde’s crystalline voice as it glides across British instrumentalist Marlow Bevan’s canny blend of trip-hop, electronica and acoustic pop.
Sunde and Bevan met while attending the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, an English university co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney. Both lived (self-described) nomadic lifestyles before landing there, which opened them to a range of musical forms and influences.
“We have both traveled quite a lot since we were very young, and are fans of many different kinds of music,” says Bevan. “Our songs come from the heart and the spirit. Sometimes it feels like we almost channel things that have happened along the way. We don’t have any rules about making music.”
Along with their itinerant spirits, Sunde and Bevan share a love of enchanted legends, myths and the natural wonders of the world, taking inspiration from their charmed birthplaces. The duo’s name comes from a medieval British tale and their music, which has been described as “cinematic fantasy pop,” is infused with folklore and magic.
For example, on “Dragons,” the electro-pop first single from “Encounter,” an illusory fire-breather represents the doubt and confusion the song’s protagonist must face and defeat as she navigates the murky waters toward adulthood.
“We want our songs to bring people to that magical place that we’re trying to get to ourselves,” Sunde says.
Overcoming obstacles — both the kind that are imposed on us and the sort we impose on ourselves — is another recurring theme on the album. It’s also something Sunde and Bevan aspire to in real life, through The Green Children Foundation, established in 2005.
The foundation supports causes including empowering women in the developing world, environmental initiatives and fostering programs to make the world a better place, such as a children’s eye clinic in Bangladesh that bears their name.
“We want to use our voice for a bigger purpose. Having our music help others is a natural progression,” says Sunde.
Key three: “Dragons,” “Hear Me Now,” “Tell Me” : :