Published June 23, 2014
We still can’t shake the smile off our faces after seeing a fantastic Pixies concert at Laugardalshöll on June 11. They were great 10 years ago, and even better this time around. The band was a lot tighter after a long reunion tour and the new bass player seemed to have sparked a newfound joy in the band’s performance, though we missed dear old Kim Deal.
In other news, GusGus released their new album, ‘Mexico,’ last weekend and we’re very fond of it. The band has mastered the formula of melodic techno with slightly cold and distant vocals, often with piles of echo. A certain satanic entity dwells in the details. For example, listen to how the bass synth on the title song “Mexico” keeps mutating and subtly shifting throughout the song, how the melody and rhythm merge into an unstoppable and unpredictable sonic beast. And listen to the fading synth in the chorus of opener “Obnoxiously Sexual,” as the staccato notes pan from speaker to speaker like a broken radio signal. The string arrangements throughout are also superb.
Vocalist Daníel Ágúst has particularly outstanding performances in “Crossfade” and “Sustain” and former member Ur›ur Hákonardóttir shows up and sings the shit out of “Another Life.” The album may not be quite as good as their last one, ‘Arabian Horse,’ but it’s one of the best to come out of Iceland this year and guaranteed to move feet in the thousands in the coming months. Meanwhile, there’s a lot happening with the one-man M-band. On June 24, he is releasing an EP through the website raftonar.is called ‘All Is Love.’ The day after there will be a release show at Húrra with Tonik and Nolo playing as well. This will be a busy night for Hörður Bjarnason (aka M-band), as he is also a member of Tonik and Nolo.
And that’s not all. On July 9, M-band is dropping his debut LP called ‘Haust.’ We have been listening to that record with tremendous joy and we have been digging the song “Ever Ending Never” that brings to mind GusGus at their best with haunting vocal build around a repetitive bouncing synth line. Straumur has been active since last summer, with writers Óli Dóri and Davíð Roach documenting the local music scene and helping people discover new music at straum.is. It is associated with the radio show Straumur on X977, which airs every Monday evening at 23:00.