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.
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.
Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry
Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
| August 2001 | Issue 17
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