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Music
Review
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Das Kapital – Lili Marlene

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Published May 4, 2007

As is often the case with artists, the worse they fare in their personal lives, the better they sound professionally. In 1984 singer Bubbi was at his nadir, having released two flops the same year and just about to start the first of his many trips to detox. The desperation is most audible on Svartur gítar, about having a conversation with the digital clock on your VCR in the middle of the night. Bubbi, Iceland’s first true rock star with all that that entails, sings about the press on 10.000 króna frétt and the trappings of fame on Leyndarmál frægðarinnar, but retains his political side on Bönnum verkföll and Launaþrællinn. Bubbi tends to work best with Mike Pollock at his side, who gets a solo spot on Fallen Angels, while Bubbi himself attempts Danish on the title track. The album barely lets up the aggression for the classic ballad Blindsker, and is probably the best rock album recorded (mostly) in Icelandic, besting even Bubbi’s own debut. VG


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What Kvöl’s new EP lacks in musicality is made up for in character. The Reykjavík-based post-punk band, which counts noted “Salvation Soldier” Þórir Georg as a member, released their hazy four-song debut this past July. The album is dark and New Wave in aesthetic, constituted by programmed 808-style drumbeats; groggy, doubled guitar lines; and indistinct lead vocals. The reverb is cavernous and plentiful, yet analogue in nature. The occasional synth pad makes an appearance, grounded by bass lines that sound as if they were played through a guitar into broken recording equipment. Each of the EP’s four songs bear meaningful

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From start to finish, Grúska Babúska’s wobbly, otherworldly self-titled debut is a pleasure to experience. There is something definitively narrative and theatrical about the ten-song collection, whose eclectic instrumentation includes flute, ukulele, guitar, synth, melodica, music box and a range of pitched percussion. The theatrical nature of the record derives from the constant starting, stopping, and resetting that punctuates each of the songs, resulting in a rare disturbing—yet captivating—listening experience. The arrangements are masterfully crafted, and chaotically layered without feeling crowded or pretentious. The record’s opening track, “Slagarinn,” begins with a minimal synth line, building in texture and dynamic with

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BÖRN

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BÖRN’s self-titled début is what some of us have been desperately waiting for: an album that properly echoes the misery of living in Reykjavík. Unlike mediocre bands who sing their happy tunes in broken English—with heavy doses of repetitive claps and heys!—BÖRN manage to portray Reykjavík as it really is. It’s neither cute nor civilized; it is in fact a typical Icelandic podunk backwater town (“krummaskuð”) on steroids. Gray, wet and windy. This Reykjavík death punk band initially called themselves NORN (“WITCH”), and in 2011 released a self-titled cassette of some rather noteworthy tunes. When a local black metal band

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I found myself six tracks into Hugar’s self-titled instrumental debut before realizing that the first song had ended. This could mean one of two things: either the lack of lyrical stimulation reaching my brain sent me into an inert mental state, or the neo-classical duo, consisting of producer-instrumentalists Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson, has achieved the type of cohesion that we are so rarely afforded in today’s single-obsessed musical dominion. I choose the former. The band’s website explains that after “many years in all kinds of different bands,” the two of them started putting together demos in 2012 that eventually

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Japanese Super Shift’s ’47’ is an unexpectedly emotional album. The record, which marks the newest creation from producer-instrumentalist Stefnir Gunnarsson, offers a healthy mix of dance-y instrumentals and mature, lyrical songs, representing a multifaceted album that feels as though it could fuel an entire evening, from the first drink to the sombre walkhome. The lyrics are thoughtful and well-crafted, and a comforting break from what we have been trained to expect from contemporary electronic music. Stefnir’s production chops begin to warm up four tracks into the album with “Voxotronic,” a nearly four-minute epic of drum-and-bass-heavy lurching, reminiscent of something a

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With several albums under her belt, two No. 1 singles on the Icelandic music charts, and world touring with Gusgus as a teen, Hafdís Huld has a lot of previous musical experience to draw upon. She’s nearing her mid-thirties now, but has that certain Icelandic agelessness about her. Hafdís’s solo album `Home’ is a simple collection of original folk songs and lullaby-like tunes arranged and orchestrated by the singer’s partner, Alisdair Wright. The warmer, more densely arranged tracks on the album are the most effective and, with a reverberant piano, guitars and percussion, all very radio-friendly. A ukelele even makes

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