laugardagur, mars 31, 2007
Protect your language Number 2
AB Club Staand
Prijs: € 10.00 VVK - € 10.00 Kassa
Donderdag 12 apr 2007 19:00
BEDROOM COMMUNITY presents VALGEIR SIGURÐSSON + NICO MUHLY + BEN FROST
Het kersverse IJslandse label BEDROOM COMMUNITY werd amper een jaar geleden opgericht en fungeert als een collectief van like minded, maar individueel danig van elkaar verschillende artiesten. Beschouw het als een nieuwe music community ongeacht het land van afkomst of muzikale leefwereld. Experimentele muziek, klassiek en elektronica staan naadloos naast elkaar of treden in het huwelijk. Op basis van de eerst twee releases (BEN FROST en NICO MUHLY) zijn we alvast meteen fan. Labeleigenaar VALGEIR SIGURÐSSON runt tevens de befaamde Greenhouse Studios (cfr. Björk, CocoRosie, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy,...) en brengt dit jaar tevens zijn debuut uit. Wij waren alvast onder de indruk van hun labelnight op het Iceland Airwaves-festival in Reykjavik afgelopen jaar.
Deze avond is mede mogelijk gemaakt dankzij Icelandair.
19.00u SOUNDTRACK BY... DIRK STEENHAUT
Muziekjournalist (De Morgen) en IJsland-adept. Vertaalt zijn liefde voor Ijslandse muziek via de draaitafels en recenseert tegelijkertijd het concert. Multitasking: het is weinig mannen gegeven!
19.00u ROOM WITH A VIEW: KILL YOUR IDOLS ('04 - 65 min. - director: Scott Crary)
Een overzicht van 30 jaar New Yorkse underground postpunk. Van DNA en TEENAGE JESUS & THE JERKS over SONIC YOUTH en THE SWANS tot BLACK DICE, LIARS en YEAH YEAH YEAHS.
20.00u BEN FROST- (Aus.)
BEN FROST woont in IJsland, maar is geboren in Australië. Hij werkt nauw samen met Valgeir Sigurðsson, schreef reeds werk voor film en dans en bracht in het verleden al een paar albums uit. Bedroom Community's tweede album staat op zijn naam: 'Theory Of Machines'. Een album dat lonkt naar de elektronica van Fennesz maar ook naar pakweg het industriële van Einstürzende Neubauten. Zelfs de invloed van The Swans is duidelijk zoals hij zelf aangeeft in het nummer 'We Love You Michael Gira' waarin hij overigens een Swans' song sampled.
21.00u NICO MUHLY (us)
De Amerikaan NICO MUHLY is geen onbekende. Hij werkte reeds samen met
Antony (van Antony and the Johnsons) en Philip Glass (met wie hij reeds verscheidene malen stage works & filmscores gecomponeerd heeft). Hij was te horen op Björk's album 'Medúlla' en hielp haar om de score te arrangeren voor Matthew Barney's film 'Drawing Restraint 9'. Ook arrangeerde hij de strijkers op 'The Letting Go' van Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. Zijn Bedroom Community-debuut luistert naar de naam 'Speaks Volumes' en intrigeert danig. Donkere strijkers strijken tegen elektronica aan. De medewerking van Antony fleurt het geheel op.
22.00u VALGEIR SIGURÐSSON (IJsl.)
Producer en muzikant VALGEIR SIGURÐSSON heeft het afgelopen decennium een flinke duit in het zakje gedaan om de muziekscène in IJsland mee helpen te ontwikkelen. Sinds '97 runt hij zijn inmiddels befaamde Greenhouse Studios en nam hij er knappe albums op van o.a. Björk (zijn eerste samenwerking met haar dateert trouwens van de soundtrack 'Dancer In The Dark' uit '00), Sigur Rós, Múm, CocoRosie (hun te verschijnen album) en Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. Hij runt eveneens het Bedroom Community label en zal in de toekomst ook als recording artist naar buiten treden. Zijn eerste plaat 'Ekvílibríum' wordt dit voorjaar verwacht. Opnemen heeft hij net gedaan met Bonnie 'Prince' Billie in Egypte. Wij zijn razend benieuwd naar het resultaat. Op Iceland Airwaves zagen we reeds een indrukwekkende set van hem.
Bjork Trickling Out Volta Teasers
Anyone fond of those Kid A blinking bear bits that MTV played back in the day might get a kick out of this. In anticipation of Volta's May 8 unveiling (May 7 overseas; both via One Little Indian/Atlantic), someone from camp Björk is posting little teaser videos and sound clips on the interweb that contain music and lyrics from the album, as confirmed by a Björk spökesperson.
As reported on Seattle weekly The Stranger's Line Out music blog, a YouTube user called "VoltaVideos" posted a clip called "Earth Intruders"-- also the name of the first single from Volta-- a couple days back. It features some abstract, pulsating images, some music that might be construed as the "universal tribal beat" Björk recently discussed with Pitchfork, and the closing text, "we are the earth intruders."
Not long after that, web-trollers stumbled upon a mysterious MySpace profile belonging to one Gerome Voltaire of "itshardtofindabandname" from Iceland. The page includes four audio clips, each clocking in under 20 seconds: "Thereza Is He", "Denoisering", and the identical, percussion-heavy "O Is for All Ages" and "Oh It Is".
The MySpace also includes two videos similar to the "Earth Intruders" clip. One titled "V" depicts a jittery, out-of-focus image that bears striking resemblance to that colorful flaming Björk photo up there. It includes the words, "did I imagine it would be like this?", set against a lush, ambient track that's soon invaded by light percussion.
A second MySpace video, titled "o", features the same tribal drumming audio as the "O" and "Oh" clips and depicts the statement, "I have been filled with steam/ for months/ for years" atop what appears to be a close-up of another Björk photo.
"What I'm presenting here at the moment," writes the enigmatic Gerome on his MySpace, "is something I recorded at some listening session in Reykjavik with an Icelandic artist, which I then cut up and added noises and images to. I hope she doesn't mind." We'd wager that she probably doesn't.
Assorted videos in the same vein have since appeared on YouTube, including a clip titled "save?" that one might interpret as addressing the heated topic of abstinence: "should I save myself for later/ or generously give?"
So do Timbaland or any of Volta's other guest stars factor into any of these? Your guess is as good as mine. Either way, the rich, relatively organic-sounding (by Björk's standards) tidbits of sound here have us pretty durn stoked.
Catch Björk's stage spectacle, intruding on an Earth venue near you soon.
1. "Earth Intruders"
3. "a powerful drug"
4. "celebrate now"
01 Reykjavik, Iceland - Forma @ Nasa
27 Indio, CA - Empire Polo Field (Coachella)
02 New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
05 New York, NY - United Palace Theater
08 New York, NY - Apollo Theater
12 Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theatre
15 Denver, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre
19 San Francisco, CA - Shoreline Amphitheatre
23 Vancouver, British Columbia - Deer Lake Park
26 Gorge, WA - Gorge Amphitheatre (Sasquatch!)
22 Pilton, England - Glastonbury Festival
28 Werchter, Belgium - Rock Werchter
01 Gdynia, Poland - Open'er Festival
05 Roskilde, Denmark - Roskilde Festival
25 Nyon, Switzerland - Paleo Festival
08 Toronto, Ontario - Virgin Festival
fimmtudagur, mars 29, 2007
by HEH (March 2007)
My mom told me the other day over breakfast that Björk is about to release a new album called Volta. While enjoying her morning coffee she wondered whether she should buy the album.
I already knew she wasn’t going to buy it. She never does. In fact there isn’t a single album by Björk in my parent’s house. But every time she releases a new album, my mom and dad wonder whether they should buy it.
My parents, like almost every Icelander, love Björk. They never listen to her music, except for some old hits, but they just love her.
Björk is one of the most precious parts of Iceland. She is a national treasure herself, as well as our glaciers, highlands and sagas. This former punk singer has a special place in every Icelander’s heart.
She is the first, and so far the best known Icelandic international star in the entertainment industry. That has made her become a big part of Iceland’s image. Most people in the world hardly knew Iceland existed before Björk came along. Now more people know of our tiny island far up north.
Björk has created an image for herself that is very suitable for Iceland. Her artsy looks and manners contribute to a character full of mystique, just like her songs. Being mysterious means being exciting, and of course, Icelanders want to look like an exciting nation in the eyes of the rest of the world.
So, we here in Iceland love her. We are very proud of her. She has won Grammys, Brit awards and was nominated for an Oscar.
She never forgets where she comes from. Her lyrics and videos are usually strongly linked to Iceland. Her Icelandic pronunciation of English words reminds the world that she is not from the US or the UK. (She speaks perfect English, though. This way of pronunciation is just for commercial use.)
On top of that, she appears to bee one of the “good” guys in the entertainment industry. She doesn’t do drugs (that we know of), she doesn’t go partying without underpants and she doesn’t have any bizarre personal preferences like kaballah, adopting masses of children from the third world or similar.
So, to Icelanders, Björk is a milestone in both culture and the image we like to have of ourselves. Her music, however, is a different matter.
Her albums always get great reviews in Icelandic newspapers, of course, but I’d say most Icelanders don’t really care about the musician Björk. Her music is a minor thing to us; it is experimental and hard to listen to. Björk isn’t exactly a sing-along musician.
My parents’ attitude towards Björk represents the attitude most Icelanders have towards her, I think. They somehow manage to love the artist without caring about the art itself.
Source: Iceland Review
by Sveinn Birkir Björnsson of Grapevine Magazine
hosted an exclusive party last night when members of the media were invited to enjoy the worldwide debut of Björk´s new album, Volta, sceduled for release on May 7. Naturally, your Grapevine representitive was in attendance, and here is what you can expect from the upcoming album. It is a quintessential Björk album, full of quirckyness, certain to be devoured by Björk fans worldwide. Featuring ten songs and clocking in at 50 minutes, the album contains a long list of distingushed guest artist, such as: Timbaland, Mark Bell from LFO, Konono n°1, Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons, Toumani Diabate, Min Xiao-Fen, Chris Corsano and Brian Chippendale from Lightning Bolt. Björk will embark on a worldwide tour in support of Volta, her sixth studio album, with stops at various big music festivals such as Coachella and Roskilde. The tour will kick off in Iceland on April 9, with tickets available from www.midi.is.
laugardagur, mars 24, 2007
Who is Bardi? In 3 parts on YouTube:
EBERG - Plastic Lions Video
The Independent CD Review of the Album by Eberg
Voff Voff (2006), INSTANT KARMA
21 April 2006
Einar "Eberg" Tonsberg's 2004 debut Plastic Lions laid down his marker as one of the most original laptop troubadours around, with whimsical songs about lions and seals and smoking film stars set to distinctive arrangements of heavily treated sounds which somehow managed to retain an airy accessibility. Much the same applies to Voff Voff, except that the songs are built around firmer skeletons, with Eberg's acoustic guitar consolidating the bricolage of samples, electronica and found-sound patinas, a blend similar to that employed by nu-folk combo Tunng. The songs are mostly about childhood, and reluctantly growing up: in "Twinkle Tune", a nursery rhyme triggers memories of long-ago holidays on a farm where "the shells and sheep legs brought us a new world"; for the delightful "Love Your Bum", a sensual, romantic lyric is created entirely from toilet-roll ad-bites ("supersoft and extra strong, tuggable and huggable"); while "Sober in June" finds our hero promising to "bounce off the sofa before noon" to try to find "the flavour of success", though without too much conviction. When your talent is as fragile and individual as this, perhaps it's best to leave it germinating on the sofa a while longer.
Ampop is a pop electronica duet from Reykjavik, founded by Birgir Hilmarsson (1978) and Kjartan F. Ólafsson (1979). Having known each other since they were eight years old, the idea of collaborating on music didn’t appear until 1998 when Ampop was founded. Previously Birgir had been a singer and guitarist of several rock bands, but was developing a huge interest in electronic music, which lead him to approach Kjartan with the idea of collaborating on a project. Until then Kjartan had been making an extremely introverted musical career, writing instrumental electronic music but with no sounds reaching further than the walls of his bedroom.
Ampop’s first release was a couple of months after the founding of the band, two tracks on a various artist compilation CD called Flugan (i.e.The Fly), released by Error (R&R) Musik. The first track the band wrote together was the track that gave Ampop its name (simply being a mixture of the words Ambient and Pop). The track combined a pounding trip hop beat with ambient tones and Birgir’s tenor voice and was evident of the style of the music Ampop were about to develop.
Two years later their debut album called "Nature is not a virgin" was released by Error (R&R) Musik.
In 2002 Skífan in Iceland has distributed their second album called “Made for Market” exclusively.
The title track "Made for Market" had earlier in 2002 been released as a 7" single on the highly respected Birmingham based label, Static Caravan and received great reviews and comments such as “It's music of genuine, graceful wonder, like múm engineered by pole while Björk nods her seal of approval in the background”.
On stage several talents assist Ampop. Thorsteinn (a.k.a. Prince Valium) adds synth sounds to the mix, along with Nói who plays the drums and guitars, and sometimes Olafur Josephson (a.k.a. Stafrænn Hákon) adds his wonderful guitar textures too.
Ampop’s influences are among others: Future Sound of London, Joy Division, Portishead, Depeche Mode, Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Kraftwerk and Cabaret Voltaire.
Listen to the sound of Sigur Ros, GusGus, Mum, Trabant, Apparat Organ Quartet on:
The Icelandic government has announced that it will cut the tax on recorded music from 24.5 to seven per cent from March 2007.
Iceland currently has the second highest rate of sales tax on recorded music in the world, lower than only Hungary and Norway, who both levy rates of 25 per cent.
The reduction follows a 20-year campaign by the country's music industry.
'Music is a powerful means of expression, underscoring important moments in peoples lives and evoking strong emotion,' said Gunnar Gudmundsson, representative of IFPI Iceland. 'Since music is such an essential part of Icelandic culture, we believed that it was unfair to impose a higher rate of VAT on sound recordings compared to other cultural goods.'
The government has also announced the formation of Music Export Iceland to promote the export of Icelandic music such as the Sugarcubes, Björk and Sigur Rós.
European music industry bodies, including the UK's BPI, have called for EU-wide reductions in sales taxes on recorded music. The BPI has also called for tax credits on UK record companies' 'R&D' spending, although they already receive a considerable public subsidy in return for airplay (free advertising) on the BBC's radio stations.
Rock in Reykjavik
It all began with The Sugarcubes. Ever since they were splashed over the front covers of the English music press back in the '80s, Iceland's reputation as a musical hotspot has consistently reached new levels. Icelandic music has been a hotbed for rock since the very early '80s with the emergence of post-punk bands Purrkur Pillnikk, KUKL and The Sugarcubes, the latter two starring Iceland's number one export: Björk.
Over the last 15 years or so, this sparsely populated island in the North Atlantic has produced a horde of bands: from funeral post-rockers Sigur Rós, inventive melody-makers Múm, house ensemble gusgus, trip-hoppers The Bang Gang, to indie-crooners Leaves, and left-field indie bands Singapore Sling, Apparat Organ Quartet and Trabant. All of these bands are notable for their experimental outlook and impressive originality. It seems that there's a new wave of musicians wanting to reinvent the island's musical profile from scratch, and the trend does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Airwaves is on the map The Iceland Airwaves Festival, sponsored by Icelandair, was started four years ago as a way of showcasing some of the new blood the country has to offer - which is a lot. Most of the artists mentioned above have played the festival in the past, and some of them landed their label deals there. But the promoters are keen to keep the fresh music flowing and choose to fill a majority of the slots with up-and-coming rather than fully established bands, although they offer a couple of big international acts, such as 2002's Fatboy Slim and The Hives. Iceland Airwaves was recently listed as one of Europe's top festivals by BBC Radio, which is considered quite an achievement for such a young festival. Last autumn, the local "underground? music mag Undirtónar awarded Iceland Airwaves founder and promoter Thorsteinn Stephensen with a special appreciation prize for his efforts in putting Icelandic music on the scene. This spring, the City of Reykjavík caught up, setting up a special fund for aspiring artists in conjunction with Icelandair, to help bands finance concert trips abroad. It is safe to say that there's an enormous vibrancy about the festival. Not grounded to one specific festival location, the city centre comes alive as dozens of bands play at different pubs and bars. An international atmosphere abounds, with hundreds of music buffs and journalists scouting through town to enjoy both the music and the multitude of restaurants, bars and clubs that the city has to offer. "I was totally amazed by the atmosphere,? recalls French journalist Antoine Columbine. "This was no mud-splattered outdoor festival; it was about totally new sounds taking place in a very cool city. It was deeply decadent."
This year the festival's slogan is "There's no excuse for lost youth", and Icelandair are already rapidly selling package deals to the five-day event. "Last night I heard over 40 new bands," said a representative of Fat Cat Records at last year's Airwaves, and he wasn't exaggerating. Bands form, break up and recombine at an alarming rate, and a great number of them are impressively good. New York Times journalist Neil Strauss sums it up, "One's chances of stumbling into a bar and being blown away by a previously unknown band at Iceland Airwaves are much greater than at comparable music conventions in America.?
Rock attitude "Life is killing my rock and roll," says Singapore Sling frontman Henrik Björnsson. That seems rather far from the truth, as the band has just released its debut record in the US to rave reviews and are set to follow it up with a one-month US tour, including a concert at Central Park Summer Stage. His tongue-in-cheek attitude is rather typical of the underground music movement in Iceland, which struggles for playing time on Icelandic radio. Writing off mainstream music as the "FM" crowd, he's conjuring up his own brand of rock, influenced by his retro American heroes. Two years ago, Björnsson and his mate Bardi Jóhannsson from Bang Gang produced their own local television show. High on anarchy, it involved a bunch of surreal sketches and the two musicians spitting, vomiting and setting fire to the set. Sabrina Silverberg, of NYC label Stinky Records, who recently signed Singapore Sling, believes that the Icelandic attitude adds a refreshing touch to the music. "There's an irreverent, ironic sensibility in some of the music that seems to reflect the strange Icelandic sense of humour.?
Jóhannsson is currently based in Paris, having signed up with the French division of EMI. "The French are very taken with Icelandic music. Björk, Sigur Rós and gusgus are huge here," he says. And, also it seems, is Jóhannsson himself, who is recording with French stars such as Keren Ann and MC Solar. "Actually, I think there's so much crap music in Iceland that only the best survive,? he states, blaséed, referring to the host of local commercial radio bands.
Ragnar Kjartansson, singer of both country outfit The Funerals and circus-pop band Trabant agrees. "Foreigners always think that Icelanders dance around with the elves to the sounds of Björk, whilst actually most of the population only listens to mainstream bands."
But even if Iceland has its host of silly pop bands, the kind of music that the Icelanders are really good at is the left-field, experimental kind. According to Jóhann Jóhannsson of Apparat Organ Quartet, "There's an atmosphere here that's open to experimentation and collaboration and different hybrids happening. In every family, there's at least one person who's an artist or who wrote a book of poetry or something.?
In fact, you'll find that many of the musicians du jour are also part-time artists, writers, TV producers and designers. It seems Iceland is a place where there are no borders and everything is possible.
The open road "There's a real buzz going on in New York and Los Angeles on the new wave of rock from Reykjavík," says Silverberg of NYC's Stinky Records (producers of bands such as Citizen Bird and The Lowflying Owls). "People who are really into the music scene are really excited about everything that's coming out of Iceland. The Iceland Airwaves festival is definitely becoming the festival to note. There's a huge awareness building up both in the US and the UK." She believes the festival is a sure-fire boost both for Icelandic tourism and for the music industry. "It's helping to draw the spotlight on to Icelandic music. There was great media attention around Sigur Rós, and that attention is now shifting to more recent bands."
Hard-core rockers Mínus are one band set to hit the big time. They are touring the US this summer to follow up the release of their second album Halldór Laxness with Victory Records, and have received outstanding reviews by magazines such as NME and Kerrang. "Our music is for open-minded individuals with strong opinions," says their Morrison-esque singer Krummi, "...people who are unafraid of being themselves, dress however they feel like dressing, and brave enough to have independent opinions on society... people who enjoy life."
Silverberg, like so many international producers, believes that there's something special about Icelandic music. "It's definitely different. I would say it's a very pure musical vision; a very intelligent approach to music. There's a definite sense of the landscape; a sense of openness, largeness." She, like so many others, is astounded by the level of creativity in such a small population. Perhaps it's exactly that smallness of the population which makes individuals thirst for innovation and experimentation. Gusgus manager John Babbitt believes that "Icelanders are highly independent thinkers; almost entirely unfazed by any outsider's opinions? Their fashionability has nothing to do with fashion. It's the way they live their lives that's couture."
Silverberg is confident in the international success of Icelandic music. "The time is very right for the new wave of Icelandic bands. In the US, the audiences are finally getting fed up with being force-fed. Bands like The White Stripes and The Strokes gave rise to a new sort of consumer. There's a new generation hungering for great music out there."
Tsunami, Timbaland Help Shape Björk's Forthcoming Volta
Icelandic songstress speaks her mind on politically inclined sixth LP
March 14, 2007
A little more than a year ago, the United Nations Children's Fund — the international organization that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries — invited Björk to visit the Aceh Province in Indonesia, one of the areas hit hardest by 2004's deadly tsunami. That was because a year earlier, the Icelandic musician released an album of fan-concocted remixes of "Army of Me" (a track from 1995's Post), with all proceeds going to support UNICEF's relief efforts in the storm-struck region.
Björk stopped by several schools and orphanages while in Aceh Province — buildings that donated money helped to erect — and the trip, overall, had a profound impact on her, she said. The lingering devastation "hit me pretty hard," and her journey ultimately inspired several of the songs that'll appear on her forthcoming sixth studio LP, Volta, which is slated for a May 8 release.
"It was definitely a piece in the puzzle, to be hit by the state of things over there," she said. "It wasn't only the beauty and the gorgeousness of these collection of islands, [that] always kind of [have] pirates going between them, but also going to the area that was hit hardest by the tsunami. I spent a few days there, in a village where 180,000 had died, in one moment. And a year later, people were still digging up bones, and digging through muck and finding objects. They had to change this golf course into a mass grave. And the smell ... that was probably the most surprising thing. You could still smell death in the air a year later."
The song "Earth Intruders," in particular, was sculpted soon after Björk awoke from a dream she had during a cross-Atlantic flight to New York. In the dream, the singer said a "tsunami of millions and millions of poverty-stricken people" swelled high above the airplane she was a passenger on. Eventually, the wave overtook the plane, hit land and razed the White House into oblivion. "It's a quite chaotic song," she said of Volta's first single. "Lyrically, it's a collection of all of these images" burned into her memory, from her trip to Indonesia as well as her vivid, in-flight reverie.
"Earth Intruders" is an industrial-tinged number, rife with video game-esque atmospherics and calypso tonalities — think Nine Inch Nails meets Devo. A rhythmic, marching sound runs throughout much of the track, which "portrays the emotions of impatience, urgency, and being very eager to communicate." In it, she sings, "Here is turmoil out there/ Carnage rambling/ What is to do but dig/ Dig bones out of earth/ Mud, graves, timber/ Morbid trenches."
Volta is Björk's first work on which she voices some of her disdain for the state of the human race.
"I am like many people, [in that I'm] quite upset about how things are in the world now, and while I am a musician, I wanted to maybe be a spokesperson for the people in the street, who are pretty pissed off in general," she explained. "I am just one of all these voices, and the fact that somebody like me has had enough shows you it is a pretty intense time we live in. Emotionally, I was just really, really hungry for something quite full-bloodied and visceral," musically speaking.
The follow-up to 2004's Medúlla was written and produced entirely by Björk. The singer enlisted an all-star cast of collaborators for Volta, including Antony and the Johnsons frontman Antony Hegarty (who duets with Björk on "My Juvenile"), Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale and producer du jour Timbaland. Björk said she and Timbaland worked on three songs together more than a year ago.
Eleven years ago, Timbaland sampled Björk's "Jòga" for Missy Elliott's "Hit 'Em Wit' Da Hee," and since then they've bumped into each other a couple of times. "It was a mutual admiration thing going on, and over the years we had discussed working together one day. And [for Volta] we just sort of decided to go for it. It was a bit of a coincidence that last year was such a huge year for him, because we wrote songs together more than a year ago, and I didn't really know what was coming. It wasn't like I was desperate for the hottest producer. I just thought for a long time that we might be really, really different, but we have this tiny little section that we have in common. I guess I was just up for a bit of action in my music, and maybe that's why this became sort of the moment where we decided to go for it. Even though we are quite different, we have something musical in common."
An interview with the Icelandic star
21 Mar 2007
Björk is already gearing up for her massive performance at Glastonbury this year. The star caught up with Julie Cullen from The Music Week earlier and admitted how excited she was to be playing the festival this summer: “We have just started rehearsing and that is why I am in Iceland right now, we have a massive band, a ten piece brass band, we are rehearsing full on now, and I am kind of very excited but also very nervous which is a good thing.” Glastonbury boss Michael Eavis previously claimed that, out of all of those playing at this year’s festival, Bjork for him is the most exciting and the one act he can’t wait to see. The Icelandic star certainly promises to deliver, she told 6 Music that the Voltyas live show will include percussionist and album contributor Chris Corsano, long time collaborator Mark Bell, a ten-piece, all-female brass band, and an Icelandic Chinese concert pianist.Aside from Glastonbury her live dates include a spot at Coachella in California before a series of other American shows and European festivals through the summer. The new album Volta which hits shelves on the 7 May features collaborations with Antony Hegarty from Antony & the Johnsons and production from Timbaland, Bjork said she teed up with the super producer after visting areas hit by the Tsunami in Indonesia: “A year later UNICEF reminded me to go to there and see what had been done with the money, meet some of the people and that had a big affect on me and a few months after that I flew to New York to meet with Timbaland and that is when a massive tsunami of emotion came out of me and we started working with beats.”
Bjork's current world tour details are as follows:
01 Reykjavik Iceland Nasa
27 California Coachella Empire Polo Field
02 New York Radio City Music Hall
05 New York United Palace Theater
08 New York Apollo Theater
12 Chicago Auditorium Theatre
15 Denver Red Rocks Amphitheatre
19 San Francisco Shoreline Amphitheatre
23 Vancouver Deer Lake Park
26 Washington Sasquatch! Gorge Amphitheatre
22 Glastonbury Festival
28 Belgium Rock Werchter
01 Poland Open' er Festival
05 Denmark Roskilde Festival
25 Switzerland Paleo Festival
The bands that came in from the cold
Nordic rock is among the hottest around
November 20, 2002
The Icelandic Society of Northern California holds its annual Thorrablot, a traditional feast, in March. Thirty-year-old ex-pat Halldor Fannar says the event, like so many customs all over the world, is something of an amusement to the country's younger generations.
"The specialty is old, really bad food," he says with a laugh. "Stuff like pickled shark."
And the entertainment? It's accordion-based, "almost like lounge music." What do his peers think of it? "They think it's pretty goofy," he says.
These days they take their popular music pretty seriously in Scandinavia. And the rest of the globe is taking notice: The innovation of Reykjavik's Sigur Ros and the high energy of Sweden's Hives have the music world heating up about the bands that came in from the cold.
Lately, Bay Area Nordics interested in their homeland's cultural exports have enjoyed a bounty of tour stops by their favorite bands. Sigur Ros, the contemplative rock band that has been an inspiration for England's groundbreaking Radiohead, plays Saturday at the Warfield. Sweden's Beatlesque sextet, the Soundtrack of Our Lives, headlines an all-Skandi triple bill (with countrymates Citizen Bird and Norway's Cato Salsa Experience) tonight at Bimbo's.
Other groups, including Sweden's all-girl rock group Sahara Hotnights and the Icelandic rap-rock band Quarashi, have also made recent visits.
With a cosmopolitan, well-educated, largely English-conversant public, Scandinavia is a ripe breeding ground for U.S.- and British-style culture. And with the U.S. independent rock 'n' roll scene lacking much in the way of ingenuity right now, its audience is hungrily scouring the shrinking global village for something different.
From the International Noise Conspiracy to Mum -- which is to say, from chaos to quietude -- the current crop of bands emerging from rock 'n' roll's latest flash point runs the creative gamut. Sweden, once known almost exclusively to the rest of the free world as the home of ABBA, supports an entire industry of bubble gum pop, with producer-composer Max Martin luring the big three of teen pop -- Britney Spears, 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys --
to his studio in recent years.
But that's hardly representative, says Fannar, a computer-gaming techie who moved to San Francisco from Iceland during the dot-com ascent six years ago.
"The joke is that we have some of world's best and worst music," he says.
As is so often the case with musical hotbeds, Scandinavia -- Sweden in particular -- has been tagged with a distinctive "sound." The success of the Hives, the crackling garage-rock band that melds the best ideas from four decades of the genre, has brought peripheral recognition for such groups as Division of Laura Lee, the Hellacopters and Finland's Flaming Sideburns.
But the reality is far more diverse. At home in Iceland, Fannar says, it is impossible to overstate the impact of Björk, the experimental pop princess. Few outsiders can name a single other Icelander, he says, despite the fact that the country can claim, for instance, a Nobel laureate (the late novelist Halldor Laxness).
Fannar, whose latest obsession is the impressionistic electronic act Mum, isn't especially smitten with Björk. "It's good music for her target audience, " he says diplomatically.
Whatever the style, Scandinavia undoubtedly turns out a high percentage of musicians. Like Detroit's grim class divisions or Seattle's relentless rain, the pop proliferation of the Scandinavian countries is often credited to the region's bitter winters and protracted darkness.
"Things to do outside are very limited," explains Fannar, who moved to California in part for the rock climbing and mountain biking. "The consumption of entertainment is really high. It's dark six months of the year. You need it. "
In recent years that resourcefulness has attracted some well-known admirers,
many from England. Oasis' brothers Gallagher, huge fans of Soundtrack of Our Lives, recently hosted the group on a European tour. Blur's Damon Albarn, the drum-and-bass producer Goldie and members of the electronic punk group Prodigy have all made Reykjavik their home away from home.
One reason for the appeal is that Iceland, with just 300,000 residents, keeps its celebrities honest. A few years ago Fannar went home for Christmas; on a night out at a local pub, he sat down at the bar next to Bjork.
"There she was, no bodyguards, just doing her thing," he recalls.
Celebrity in Iceland, he says, is no big deal. He laughs: "Everyone in Iceland thinks they're a superstar anyway."
October 08 2002
The land of fire and ice just keeps producing a lava flow of unique music, reports Chris Johnston.
Iceland's most famous export, Björk, has moved back home, for some of the year at least. She now spends part of the year in Iceland's isolated capital, Reykjavik.
"In Iceland people don't really care about fame," she told Britain's Daily Telegraph. "Reykjavik is such a small town; there's no mystery. You are who you are; you're just a normal sod like everyone else."
On the strength of a barrage of new, inventive music over the last 12 months - the post-Björk new wave - the New York Times has dubbed Reykjavik a "global rock laboratory".
Bands such as Mum (pronounced "Moom") and Sigur Ros (meaning "Victory Rose") are the hottest tickets in alternative music. And a long list of Icelandic contenders wait in the wings - the next Next Big Things. Never mind the revisionism of the Vines and the Strokes; Icelandic new wave types take pride in sounding unlike anything else. Which is why, suddenly, they do so well. Their kind has not been heard - or heard of - before.
When Bjork emerged as part of the Sugarcubes in 1988, it was the start of something big. Her solo albums - Debut, Post, Homogenic and last year's Vespertine , all of which embraced electronica - have bridged the tricky divide between experimental and popular.
But as well as her unique voice, Björk Gudmundsdottir's Icelandic-ness has rendered her exotic. Most reports on her, and her country's music, are peppered with references to Norse gods, Vikings and the inhospitable landscape - the "land of fire and ice".
This has been a big selling point in Bjork's music. For the new wave, the same applies. The Iceland tag has become a seal of approval in alternative and underground music.
It helps, of course, that much of the music has this original and compelling quality to it. Sigur Ros, particularly, is an intense tonal guitar band with a choral, almost operatic, sound. The lyrics, when there are any, are only in Icelandic. The band toured Europe with Radiohead after the album Agaetis Byrjun became a surprise hit.
A new album - with the minimalist title of ( ) - is due at the end of October. Music industry insiders say the tracks are untitled, and the CD comes with a 12-page white booklet that is mysteriously blank.
Mum, meanwhile, is an equally hip, low-fidelity electronic/acoustic outfit, using ancient Casio keyboards, samplers, laptops and sequencers among accordions, cellos, violins, harps, melodica, glockenspiels and clarinets. One member has quit to continue her classical cello studies, but the band, now split between Iceland and Germany, vows to continue, perhaps even with a human drummer.
Mum's newest album, Finally We Are No One , was written and partly recorded in a lighthouse. "Iceland is shaped somewhat like a dragon, and this was on the dragon's forehead," says band member Gunnar Orn Tynes. "There was a town half an hour away by boat. It is an orange lighthouse and a small white house with a red roof. There is a barn. There is a stream. There is a rocky beach and mountains and a valley. It is very nice."
Icelandic musicians agree that the extreme landscapes influence their creativity. But more relevant is the country's isolation and size, says Thor Skulason, the head of Thule Records, Iceland's biggest independent label.
"In the scene, everybody is a friend of each other. Everybody knows Sigur Ros very well and Mum, and therefore you can't copy your friends."
Skulason says Icelandic musicians are reluctant to soak up European or American trends: they are more willing to go out on a limb. Then, he says, there's the weather. It is freakish. It fires up the synapses. "Every 15 minutes we have a different kind of weather. We have the sun, we have snow, we have everything. Icelandic people have a lot of energy because we always expect the unexpected."
Skulason started his record label in 1997 with only one song - a techno track called Strobelight Network by Cold. The song did so well with DJs in Europe that he was able to branch out into other kinds of music. Now he has distribution deals around the world, including Australia.
Thule's most hotly tipped acts at the moment are Trabant, with strange electronic pop music, and The Funerals, made up of members of Trabant, who do country music. Their album Pathetic Me is a surprise hit on American college radio.
"These guys had never played this kind of music before, ever," says Skulason. "They just decided they wanted to, so they wrote eight songs then went to a mountain cabin with no electricity and hired a diesel (generator) then recorded on a two-track tape machine over one weekend. They were extremely drunk."
There is also a lauded Icelandic ambient compile called 42 More Things To Do In Zero Gravity , and an interesting rock-oriented band, Sofandi. But next year, says Skulason, will be big. He is releasing what he predicts will be the biggest name in Icelandic music since Bjork. Her kind will never happen again. But Apparat Organ Quartet, he says, won't go unnoticed.
"They will be a very big underground hit. If you imagine, on stage, Kraftwerk, with three or four really old keyboards and organs and a drummer in the middle. They dress in suits. They have a gothic feel. They play everything live. It's also got a punk element, like a dance-punk element. Someone said `Kraftwerk meets Iron Maiden'."
Gunnar Orn Tynes, from Mum, says his band toured non-stop for three months this year. Everywhere he went - Japan, Europe, America - people wanted to know why Icelandic music was so strange and brilliant. Most of the time, he says, no one cares about Iceland, and it revels in its isolation. But now there's all this hype and expectation.
"It feels like it is not real, all this talk," he says. "It's just make-believe. It's strange to be the subject of it. But we don't care. I try and hold my ground and not be sucked in by it. I just make music, and read, and write, and watch movies, and ride my bicycle."
Iceland Airwaves 2002
Sponsored by Iceland Air and the city of Reykjavik, the Iceland Airwaves music festival was launched in 1999 as a forum to showcase budding Icelandic musical talent, such as the bands Quarashi and Sigur Ros. The 2002 Airwaves festival included international sensations Fat Boy Slim (United Kingdom), the Hives (Sweden) and Iceland's own Apparat Organ Quartet -- a band that continues to affirm why Icelandic music, with its crystalline complexity and innovation, is a window into the future of sound.
Kitchen Motors was created in April of 1999 by three Reykyjavik-area musicians to help foster unlikely musical and artistic collaborations between local musicians, with the results performed before audiences and released on the Kitchen Motors record label. The creative think tank now covers every artistic bandwith in the creative spectrum, still instigating unlikely musical pairings but also promoting performance art events, exhibition showings, and film productions the world over. Visit their site to find out more about this quirky outfit and their upcoming projects.
The Icelandic Music Page
The Icelandic Music Page has an extensive listing of bands and musicians from Iceland, including links to their Web sites. It also provides information about Icelandic musicology and history going back hundreds of years. All genres of Icelandic music and styles are represented here, as is information about musical gear and musician unions and organizations that are active in Iceland.
BBCi's AboutMusic: Reykjavik Underground
The BBC world music series AboutMusic produced this profile of Reykjavik's music scene, interviewing the key players in the Reykjavik underground scene, across all genres. The site boasts more than 70 music clips from pioneering bands and shows the kind of cross-band collaboration that's become a hallmark of modern Icelandic music. One such musical collaboration is Kitchen Motors -- the creative crucible out of which such successful experiments as the Apparat Organ Quartet were born.
BBC Radio 3: Mixing It Visits Iceland
In October 2001, the BBC world music show Mixing It traveled to Iceland to explore the country's alternative music scene. Hear clips of music and be present at interviews with a dozen musicians from Iceland, who offer insight into why it seems that just about everyone in the country is musically inclined.
Cool Heat in Rock Lab
Since the late 1980s, with the advent of Bjork and her band, the Sugarcubes, Icelandic music has been renowned globally as a bellwether for musical experimentation and change. The persistent appeal of Icelandic bands such as Sigur Ros and Mum may reflect a desire from the general listening public to tap into sound that is, according to The Age (Oct. 8, 2002) unlike anything else. Many believe that it's Iceland's extreme landscape that has set Icelandic bands' imaginations into hyperdrive.
The Bands That Came in From the Cold
Find out why Scandinavian music is the hottest thing around, from the hard-rockin' thrash of bands like the Hives to the atmospheric bliss of Sigur Ros, a band from Iceland that performs in Hopelandic, a language it invented. An Icelandic expatriate living in San Francisco attributes the hotbed of musical experimentation to a creative reaction to six months of long nights and harsh winters. (San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 20, 2002)
Born in Reykjavik on November 21, 1965, Bjork Gudmundsdottir (or Bjork, as she's commonly known) is Iceland's most famous export. This visually lush fan-site is brimming with information about the artist, from her first record release at age 11 to a slew of photos, a nicely arranged biography and inimitable musings from the "Bjorkess" herself.
Judging from what I found yet the Icelandic music scene was pretty traditional and folkloristic in the 1950s and 1960s. in a boring way sadly. But I'll keep watching out. There has to be something...a few nice songs I was able to spot anyway.
The cutest song by now definitely is by Jóhann Möller og Tónasystur, called "pabbi vill mambó" (daddy wants to mambo).
Aso quite nice is "lipurtá" by Ragnar Bjarnason while Sigrún Jónsdóttir's "fjórir kátir þrestir" is a little bit too easy cheesy la-la-la in my opinion. And even though I never really got into the original song I also put up "jói jóns" by SAS Tríóið, which is an Icelandic cover of "Louie Louie".
All songs are taken from the second part of the "óskalögin" compilation series.
There are nine double cd's retrospecting the Icelandic music scene through the decades. Available for download at www.tonlist.com, cd's at www.skifan.is - but the first few cd's are sold out.
Other interesting cd's seem to be the "svona var ...."-cd's which review the music of Iceland year to year from 1952 to 1966. They are cheaper at www.dutyfree.is - but they don't mailorder and you'll have to pick them up at reykjavik airport. Dammit!
Jóhann Möller og Tónasystur - pabbi vill mambó (1955)
SAS Tríóið - jói jóns (louie louie) (1959)
Sigrún Jónsdóttir - fjórir kátir þrestir (1961)
Ragnar Bjarnason - lipurtá (1966)
þriðjudagur, mars 20, 2007
Video of new single "Moss" by GusGus (Quicktime, QT):
Æla (meaning, literally translated, "puke"), Iceland's premier punk-rock-noir band, are hitting England for a week at the end of March. This band have been a regular highlight at Iceland's Airwaves festival for the last few years as well as getting a busload of TV and Radio coverage. Now their waves spread to these shores for a set of shows with all kinds of weird and wonderful underground bands from around the UK, including several DiS favourites.
Details are as follows:
26 Oxford Market Tavern w/ Junkplanet, The Walk Off, Worldview
27 London Artrocker w/ Children Collide
28 Brighton Engine Room w/ Applicants, Junkplanet, Power Up!
30 London The George Tavern w/ Applicants, Barbarians, Hot Pants Romance, Action Beat
31 London Brixton Dogstar w/ Fuck Buttons, J.I.M.C., Junkplanet, The Walk Off, DJs Bishi + Disastronaut
Find Æla on their MySpace to have a listen or contact the band
mánudagur, mars 19, 2007
Beautiful video for song "Sun's gone dim ..." of the IBM 1401, a Users Manual Album of Johann Johannsson
Opening of the Movie
Music Opening Scene: Sigur Ros
Or the movie trailer:
Score: 4 / 5
Published in Grapevine Magazine: Issue 3 on Thursday, March 08, 2007
Although its cuteness occasionally sinks to unforgivable stupidity, Dirty Paper Cup is a triumph as far as original songwriting goes, and brilliantly showcases the fact that no matter how much fashionable gimmickry is strewn over a song, it doesn’t count for shit unless it has the bones to support its own weight, and this album certainly has bones aplenty. Hafdís bares her soul on almost every track, making even the ditsyest lines ring with such bittersweet honesty that the ho-hum production is rendered irrelevant; even the banjo hooks sound heartfelt. The end result is an album so personal and well-intentioned that you feel like you’ve made a new friend after listening to it. Granted, your new friend might be a hopeless fashion victim and a bit of a drama queen, but a good one nontheless.
Score: 1 / 5
Published in Grapevine Magazine: Issue 3 on Thursday, March 08, 2007
Grandiose and epic in scale, Sail To The Moon is still hardly more than a tired rehash of songs we’ve been listening to on indie radio stations for ten years, only more pretentious and self-involved, with some very unwelcome showtunes and blues influences thrown in to make it even less listenable. Bedecked in the vast amount of trinkets one has come to expect from Ampop (string orchestrations, wurlitzers, trumpets, theremins, mellotrons, etc.), Sail To The Moon barely makes it off the floor, never mind the moon, as hard as You Could Be Lovely, Two Directions and Carry On try to keep the whole thing afloat. Shallow and dull.
Song of the 2. Week: Sail to the moon
Published in Grapevine Magazine: Issue 3 on Thursday, March 08, 2007
Icelandic dance music pioneers GusGus recently released their long-awaited fourth full-length album. Entitled GusGus Forever, many of its tracks have been driving Reykjavík clubs wild for a long time, building up anticipation with the city’s dance-crazed kids. Now, they rejoice. The Grapevine sat down one of them to discuss Forever, their music, their live shows and to take part in the imminent hype-fest.
The end was near and the heat had already been turned off by the time I visited the GusGus studio in the now-defunct Klink & Bank art factory, the place where most of their new LP, GusGus Forever, was conceived. It was autumn of 2005 and Klink & Bank was to close down in a matter of weeks. There were quiet streams of people all over; musicians, artists and architects gathering and packing the products of their labour and the tools of their trade to be moved to strange new locations.
Programmer Birgir Þórarinsson (usually referred to as Biggi Veira in GusGus paraphernalia) welcomed me to GusGus’ part of Klink and Bank and told me about their recently finished album, the sounds that inspired it and the tools used to make it. He did this for well over two hours, regardless of the cold, and of the fact that he was very busy and could only squeeze me in for half an hour. That particular rant started, like most good monologues, with a stupid question. “What does this thing do?” I asked and pointed at a strange looking deck of some sorts that had a seemingly infinite number of brightly coloured cords coming out of it. He proceeded to tell me and didn’t really stop after that.
Playing me songs, humming melodies, explaining the workings of various transistors, oscillators, filters and gates, he just kept on going. I remember thinking that any musical outfit that has him aboard need not worry about their creative side. His sheer interest and involvement – his passion for the music, if you pardon the cliché – struck me then, as would it strike me when I next sat down for an interview with him nearly two years later. The album that was reportedly completed two years ago was just seeing a release. This fact invites the amazingly bad pun of asking if it’s called Forever because it took that long to come out.
After a polite laugh, he answers; “No, the story with the name is that Stebbi [Stephensen, AKA President Bongo] was DJ-ing in Russia at some point. We’ve had a fair amount of success there and in the eastern bloc – too bad that the profit from album sales there rarely finds its way back to us – so people knew who he was and were lining up outside the club he was playing. As he was passing the line, someone from there shouted ‘GusGus forever!’ Hence the name. I take it as a compliment to our music, the thought that it has its place in eternity.”
Rhythms that Tear Bodies Apart
As for the delayed release, Veira explains that band members’ pregnancies are mostly to blame. “And I have a full-time job, I have an expensive lifestyle now, and a family to support. No use playing bohemian any more.” He adds that the band actually had an album ready for release in the summer of 2004. “It was ready and we were intent on putting it out, but I ultimately felt it wasn’t… enough. It was a good album. My wife says it was great and all. But the material hadn’t advanced enough from what we did on [2002’s] Attention, more like a spin-off of that album. I wanted to go further. I had a very strong concept in mind, which was ‘degeneration’, and I felt we hadn’t gotten that tone just right by then. But then we did, and Forever is exactly the way it was supposed to be.”
He tells me that many of the songs off the 2004 version show up on Forever unchanged. However, as the forum GusGus have been affiliated with since evolving from the nine-person art troupe it began as is ever changing and, well, fickle, this begs the question if those songs are still relevant today. Are GusGus simply so ahead of the times that they defy trends, or make them, rather than follow? Veira has thought about this too.
“Well, it’s true that things get dated very fast in this scene. Those who put something out that’s reminiscent of last year’s sound get dismissed immediately. You can divide those who make our kind of music into two groups, what you may call pioneers and followers. The line between the two is vague, but for the purpose of the topic, we could say that some people working within the field are exploring and creating in their music, just as any artist would. And then there are the producers, whose aim is rather to make a cool song for the club, what’s in right now at the cost of their own voice. They feel no need to search for the boundaries of creation, rather opting to manoeuvre their beats so they’ll work in the club. You’ll usually get a hit that sounds like the others and is catchy for a few plays, but has no real longevity, because nothing special was put into it. Even if it is a great song.
“With those that keep searching, the music seems to have more ingredients; their music always has a longer lifespan. Last year saw a sort-of revolution in German minimal-techno that’s really influenced the sound that’s in vogue right now. And that sound is in the vein of some of our songs from 2004, for no particular reason, except maybe that we never chase trends or make music using the sound or rhythm that’s ‘hip’ right now. We use the same instruments that we used in ’92, we do things on our own terms, and it is pure coincidence that what comes out is suitable for clubs. It’s because I am a sucker for rhythms that tear your body apart.”
More Kiss than Kraftwerk?
GusGus seems a very trendy and fashionable band. Just witness the accompanying pictures. In fact, they are in all likelihood the trendiest bunch of hipster thirtysomethings in Reykjavík, nay all of Iceland (Björk has turned 40, and she is more of an institution than a person). GusGus make hipster music, which in turn gets played at hipster clubs. They wear hipster clothing. They have hipster names. They have hipster haircuts, and those of them that grow facial hair grow it in a hipster fashion. Of course, this says nothing about the band or its music. If it did, then there would be little more to say. But this fact accentuates that GusGus has an evolved and seemingly thought-out image appeal, unusual for their brand of techno, which has throughout the years been decidedly anti-celebrity. More Kiss than Kraftwerk in terms of presenting themselves, as is evident on the cover of Forever, where each member is presented in an iconic fashion.
Veira tells me that while it has always been a part of dance music dogma that fans should experience and celebrate the music rather than its makers, the band has always had fun playing around with their image on album covers, etc. “Trying to personify the music, characterise it. The idea with the icons is not exactly a claim to be worshipped. It’s more like an attempt to personify us in this way, and to convey the idea that every person is a saint…”
Every member of GusGus, or just people in general?
“Every person, of course [laughs]. We are all a part of God, you know. Not made by him, but we have a part in him, in the divine. We all keep a part of the divine within ourselves. And this is why we are all saints, and we need to see ourselves as such, to respect each other and ourselves.”
The Edge of Reason
Our talk somehow shifts to Gusgus’ notoriety as a live act. Their hometown shows, which usually take place at downtown club NASA, are infamous for their party hearty atmosphere and have long since surpassed any cult status bestowed upon the band (that sells around 1.000 copies of its each release domestically), selling out every single time. Veira tells me that the band always puts a lot of effort into each concert it throws, and that they differentiate from many techno bands’ live sets by keeping it organic, so to speak. “I usually have each part of a given song available while on stage, that way I can mix and extend the track in accordance with the vibe of the room, so I can interact with the crowd.
“You try and create something new while on stage that way, not going by a set timeline. The interaction between [Gusgus singer] Earth, Stebbi, myself and the crowd along with that freedom means that every show is a bit different and there’s invariably something new going on. Therefore, it’s always very exciting to play the songs, like ‘what’ll come out of it now?’ every single night. And sometimes, when you manage to ride a successful combo to new peaks, you wind up stepping back and going: Yes! Something awesome just happened.”
I turn the talk to our Klink & Bank interview, where he told me that their live show shared influences with sleaze-rockers Trabant. “A certain atmosphere came to be through the Klink & Bank wing we shared with the likes of Trabant and Ghostigital, one that defined a live show as the best place to explore the limits of the music you’re creating. Everything’s at your fingertips at a live show: you have the powerful sound system, the pulsating crowd and sweaty performers – the moment is now. And that creates a need to do something unique, to blossom, more than fiddling in the studio ever will. You try and take the show as well as the music to the edge of reason. And people fuckin’ dig that. Understand?”
Earlier in our talk, Veira spoke of degeneration as an underlying theme or concept he had wanted for the album. When pressed on the subject, he relays his vision of the state of the western world today, that it has reached its peak and is slowly but surely deteriorating and degenerating right now. “We’ve seen this happen with every great culture,” he says. “Our grip on the world is declining. Something will replace it, but we don’t know what. That’s causing a lot of anxiety in society. People are afraid of the idea of anarchy, of the unknown and of each other, and that causes countries like the US to react violently to ensure their place in this faltering world. People are naturally scared, that’s a normal phase.
One of the clearest signs of degeneration is when societies lose their value systems; we don’t even know what our values are anymore. 150 years ago it was very clear what we stood for and would fight for, but the lines have blurred and a lack of direction has taken their place. This makes people scared, as I said, but it also invites for new ways of doing things. What’s happening is the degeneration of the old, an invitation and a chance to try something new. Really, the parties in Rome were probably never as fun as during the last days of the empire. One of the things we’re saying in our music is: anything goes. Listen to your heart.”
Is the ultimate message of GusGus then that of escapism, of dancing while the city burns?
“Well, I guess you could call it that. Liberation from the fear of change. Even though there are a lot of scary things going on in the world as it is today you can’t be afraid of finding your own ways, of being true to yourself and independent of reigning forces and values. There’s nothing more to be found there, we need something new, and in order to do that we need to be liberated from the old and degenerated.”
GusGus will celebrate the release of Forever with a live show at Nasa on March 24.
Score: 4 / 5
Published in Grapevine Magazine: Issue 3 on Thursday, March 08, 2007
“THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT. SHINING, ILLUMINANT, GLORIOUS GUSGUS.” ...or so proclaim the opening words on the promotional package for this, GusGus’ fifth studio album, and they might just be right. Bastard spawn of a long-dead movement, GusGus have managed to outlive their acid & house contemporaries by far, and time has only aged them to perfection. The beats are more biting and minimal than ever, the hooks more shamelessly poptastic and infectiously catchy and the Ecstasy just as dominant in the bloodstream as it was twelve years ago. It’s always satisfying when a band reaches the age where it becomes capable of filtering all the bullshit out of their music and stick to what matters most. While Forever hardly treads new ground for GusGus (or anyone at all, for that matter), it’s not like anyone ever asked them or expected them to do anything new. More of the same is only a bad thing if the same sucks.
Photo above by Rob Schoenbaum / Polaris
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Song title is "Futurist"
sunnudagur, mars 18, 2007
1. Week: Ensimi with the song "Slow Return"
IJslandse muziek selectie van Martin Visser
Ágætis byrjun Sigur Rós (2000)
Dit is allang geen pop meer, dit is geluid. Verstilde muziek uit hogere sferen. Wel melodieus en met gebruik van veel verschillende instrumenten. Maar wat zingt die man?
Summer make good Múm (2004)
Net zo onverstaanbaar en mogelijk nog weirder. Múm-zangeres zuchtzingt en dan heel hoog. Muziek met effect.
Medúlla Björk (2004)
Abnormaal veel gebruik van a-capella-zang op alle mogelijke manieren. Maakt van Björks album een ongewoon project. Niet de beste CD van haar.
Something wrong Bang Gang (2003)
De verkoper in IJsland noemde dit pop. Yea right. Maar vergeleken bij die andere CD's is dit inderdaad een poppier CD. Overigens niet minder goed.
Fousque Slowblow (2004)
Low-fi uit gletjserland. Veel Sparklehore, misschien een klein beetje Granddaddy. Maar toch echt IJslands. Slowblow heeft ook de muziek van de film Noi Albinoi gemaakt.
Virthulegu forsetar Johann Johannsson (2004)
Dit begint eigenlijk al meer klassiek te worden. Verstild lijkt me ook weer het sleutelwoord. Vier stukken van elk een kwartier waarin blazers steeds hetzelfde thema laten horen. Met minieme tempowisselingen. Hypnotiserend.
Op de site van Bad Taste kun je allerhande IJslandse CD's kopen. Alleen al de beschrijvingen lezen is inspirerend.
Mijn avond kon niet meer stuk. Ik stapte donderdagavond Paradiso binnen, de laatste tonen van het voorprogramma klonken na en daar galmde de stem van Antony door de zaal. In afwachting van de IJslandse band werden we vergast op het prachtige duet van hem met CoCoRosie, Beautiful boyz. En daarop volgde Casimir Pulaski Day van Sufjan Stevens. Hoe is het mogelijk dat twee van mijn ontdekkingen van dit jaar als opwarmertje werden gedraaid?
Múm heb ik in IJsland "ontdekt". Toen ik daar op vakantie was, heb ik wat CD's gekocht. Ik meldde de verkoper dat ik hield van Sigur Rós en dat ik vergelijkbare muziek zocht. Hij duwde me Summer make good van Múm in handen. Meteen in de vakantie al gedraaid. En net als Sigur Rós maakt ook Múm muziek die typisch bij dat land past. Het ruige natuurlandschap gecombineerd met hun verhalen en sagen over elfjes en trollen, dat hoor je er absoluut in terug. Beide bands maken zweverige, dromigere muziek, waarin zang (en in ieder geval tekst) een ondergeschikte rol speelt. De liedjes van Sigur Rós hebben misschien iets meer samenhang, terwijl Múm eerder collages van geluid en muziek maken.
Om dat live te zien is heel bijzonder. Múm bestaat uit zes man (en een enkele onzichtbare techneut die bij deze band min of meer een medelid is). Alle zes spelen ze allerlei instrumenten. Ik heb de zangeres accordeon zien spelen, bas, mondorgel (of hoe dat ding ook heet), piano, keyboard en ook electronica zien bedienen. De gitarist speelde ook toetsen en bas. De jongen van de electronica speelde ook xylofoon, gitaar en zong. En het meisje met viool, speelde ook op een wonderlijk strijkinstrument met een hoorn erop. En ze zong en tokkelde op de xylofoon. Dan waren er nog de trompettist die ook toetsen speelde en de drummer die daarnaast ook zong.
Veel Múm-nummers zijn instrumentaal (op hun debuut Yesterday was dramatic, today is ok staan voornamelijk instrumentale nummers; op de laatste plaat Summer make hood wordt er meer gezongen). Daarbij is de basis steeds een wonderlijk klinkend ritme uit de drumcomputer aangevuld met bliebjes en piepjes. De drummer speelt er in veel nummer ook live bij, wat overigens een mooie combi is. Voor de rest combineren ze allerlei electronica met akoestische instrumenten. Dus hippe keyboard-klanken met viool en trompet. Bliepjes uit een apparaat plus xylofoon. Soms zijn de liedjes vooral collages van elkaar opvolgende melodietjes en geluidseffecten. Andere keren bouwen ze ene melodie juist helemaal uit en variëren daarop. Beide soorten liedjes zijn erg mooi, de een geeft meer spanning, omdat je met zo'n collage nooit weet waar de muziek uitkomt. Het andere soort liedjes raakt me meer. Daar zit vaker een opstuwende opbouw in. Zeker als de drums steviger worden en de volume toeneemt van de steeds repeterende melodie, is dat heel mooi.
Hier en daar ging er wel wat mis, technisch gezien. Af en toe een piepende microfoon of een te hard ingezette drumloop. Het lijkt me bijna niet te vermijden met zoveel instrumenten en electronica. En dan ook zulke gecompliceerde muziek. Ik snap niet dat ze zelf kunnen onthouden wat ze wanneer spelen. Bijzonder aan Múm is nog wel de zang van Kristín Anna Valtysdóttir. Ze is een frêle verschijning, een IJslands elfje zeg maar. Een beetje Björk, maar dan heel bescheten en verlegen. Haar zang is betoverend, kinderlijk, zacht en hoog. Het geeft de dromerige liedjes een extra mysterieuze sfeer mee. (Overigens heeft zij met haar tweelingszusje Gyða (ook in de band) geposeerd voor de albumhoes van Belle & Sebastian's Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant).
Het optreden van Múm was in zekere zin ook wel vertederend. De bandleden kwamen nogal verlegen over en er was nauwelijks contact met het publiek. Af en toe maakte Kristín Anna een klein buiginkje en door gingen ze weer met een nieuw liedje. Ze gaven nog één toegift en na lang applaudiseren kwamen ze daarna nog een keer op. Iedereen verwachtte nog een liedje van ze, maar ze bogen vriendelijk lachend en een beetje klungelig. En liepen toen weer van het podium, een verbaasd lachend publiek achterlatend.
Het was betoverend, hemels. Hoog op de muur achter het podium stond nog de tekst uit de tijd dat Paradiso een kerk was: "Soli Deo Gloria". Hoe toepasselijk bij deze engelenmuziek.