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What the heck is going on in Iceland? Maybe it's the lack of sunlight. They only get 2 hours per day during certain times of the year. Maybe it's the bleak landscape, often described as looking like the moon. Or maybe it's the cold weather. But I must know... what is inspiring all this Icelandic creativity of late? Has it merely been hibernating and waiting until now to surface like some mysterious snow creature arising from the legendary mystery of the Icelandic landscape?

Of course we are all familiar with the wondrously talented Björk, whose trademark sound (and persona) consistently defies convention. And who could overlook the more recent breakthrough of Sigur Rós. They have become an international sensation, breathing life into a post-rock music scene that has recently seen a backlash as people seem to be hankering for song-oriented material these days.

there is a number of small things

In my opinion, the secret is as follows. Bands such as Sigur Rós and now Múm have regenerated the post-rock genre by placing emphasis on melody. Tortoise and Godspeed You Black Emperor are still of worthy standing in my book, but these new Icelandic post-rockers are really striking a chord by taking the emphasis off of slick instrumentation and focusing instead on creating great melodies within the context of post-rock.

Tortoise hasn't done this since Millions Alive Today Will Never Die.

And that brings me to Yesterday was Dramatic - Today is OK, Múm's extraordinary release on Thule Music.

Formed by Gunnar Örn Tynes, Örvar Ţóreyjarson Smárason, and twin sisters Gyđa and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir (who all happen to all be in their late teens) their premiere release is as beautiful as it is unique. The influences seem rather obvious (Aphex Twin and Tortoise, with a touch of Classical) but the finished product is utterly unique. Múm uses a blend of electronica, accordions, harpsichords, glockenspiel, synthesizers, and seemingly every other instrument known to man and throw it all into an eclectic Icelandic stew to create an intoxicating meal that will satisfy even the most jaded proponents of the 3 minute song. And that's because, like Sigur Rós, Múm has effectively created a record that is as melodic as it is complex.

The genre-defying nature of Múm will make them an easy sell for most. Laptop geeks and organic rockers alike will be pleased by this band. With Yesterday was Dramatic - Today is OK, Múm has wondrously created a sound that is entirely their own. With the exception of track 7, whose dorky vocals are just that, dorky, this is a near perfect disk.

I look forward to great things in the future with Múm. They fuse electronics and live instrumentation in a way that makes it nearly impossible to differentiate between the two. And you'll end up not even caring because you are enjoying the music too much to think about it.

--Robert Lanham


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