Early Birds

Morr Music

Here are three words that somehow belong together: “Experimental Icelandic Collective.” That’s what mùm calls itself, and please don’t be so Rolling Stone as to capitalize them. The guys behind the band are the impressively named Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason, and this disc harkens back to their wanderlust days at the end of last century.

Bumming around Europe with a recorder and mixer gives some deceptively simple soundscapes that suppress melody and rhythm, but not the point of becoming hopeless noise. The compositions sometimes sound like backing music for a kiddy video game (“Hufeland”) or a student film that lacks theme, character development, or resolution (“Volkspark Freiderichshain”). At other times they go way, way far down the road of found sounds and ambient environmentalism. A good example is the mysterious voices populating “Enginn vildi hlusta á fiðlunginn, þvà strengir hans vóru slitnir (getiði ekki verið góð við mömmu okkar).” I’ll let you translate it; the voices are clearly human but of no discernible language. These are sounds stripped of nearly all “soundness” and located in a place devoid of “location.” Sure, a melancholy accordion drifts across the sky, but what I hear is “We are all alone, together.”

People want answers, answers to questions like “Why was this recorded?” “Who thought this was a good idea?” and even very rarely “Where can I get more of this?” That is conveniently provided in the handy digital book that came along with the music. It’s a PDF in my case, and looks typed with an old fashioned Royal Underwood, complete with actual Icelandic fonts. No lyrics, just little factoids about the songs along with a watercolor or pencil sketch somehow relevant to the emotion at hand. You can argue all of this was technically released, but that assumes you happened to be at the right party or record store in the less fashionable side of Reykjavik on a particular rainy Tuesday at 3 a.m. and had enough Kroner left to get the original vinyl or cassette collectible. But you missed it, so this is your option, and in some sense it’s better than the original: you can get it easily, keep it up to date on your latest gadget, and enjoy the relaxation of arty Icelandic experimental collective mùm in all their typographical glory.

múm: http://mum.ishttp://www.facebook.com/mumtheband

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