In purely drum and bass terms ‘Microfluidics,’ the second EP from Reykjavík producer Subminimal, does not re-invent the wheel. It’s too in lockstep with the likes of ’90s artists such as Source Direct and Photek to be considered anything like ground breaking. BUT, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a fully accomplished listening experience going on here. The beats produced across its five tracks are incredibly restrained, with a clinical laser etched finish to them. There’s not a trace of grime or techstep in-yer-face aggro contained within. Normally this would mean a slight lack of substance, but in the case of ‘Microfluidics,’ it actually works out really well. This is down to the menacingly textured sounds accompanying those beats. Sci-fi dark ambient sounds whoosh past your ears, while echoing drips, pops and splashes give this EP a spacious, almost eerie presence. It feels like ‘Microfluidics’ lurks and skulks in dark corners of abandoned spaceships off Solaris, waiting for people to go, “Hey we should split up and explore this place separately,” before it attacks and lays its young in your brain or something.
Hörður Már Bjarnason’s solo album ‘Haust’ (or “Autumn”), under his band name M-Band, at times seems to emulate the styles of more seasoned electronic musicians a little too closely, but ends up offering plenty of fresh sounds as well. GusGus is an obvious similarity here, along with some of Björk’s more house-inspired tracks of the 1990’s and also the dreamy vocals of Antony. (Side note: a 23-year-old Hörður stated in an interview that he would love to meet Antony one day, and knowing the networks that Icelandic musicians work in, you might as well expect an upcoming collaboration.) There is
‘If You Think This Is About You… You’re Right,’ the debut album from local band Different Turns, tries to infuse a bit of electronic wibbling into classic alt-rock guitar moves. And listening to it, it’s plain to see that they’re more than capable of making some really good tunes. Tracks like “Erotomania” glide along with a sleek hand in the production stakes, while “Out Of My Mind” makes a decent stab (this is a recurring theme in the album) at deep down country. The best tune, “High Hopes,” is a piece of guitar pop that could easily be slotted between the
At the end of April, Ben Frost held a concert in a packed Kaffibarinn to premiere the music from his new album ‘A U R O R A.’ To say that the atmosphere was intense in that tiny confined space would be putting it mildly, to say the least. With Greg Fox and Shahzad Ismaily on drums and percussion, Frost made the whole bar throb as the music built in volume and pressure until it almost became physical to touch. It was claustrophobic and confrontational, yet strangely alluring. The people who were nodding with Zen-like serenity in front of
If you think Kings of Leon, the Black Keys and the White Stripes are all purveyors of derivative trash, then there’s a new purveyor on the scene for you to hate. If, on the other hand, you think they’re refreshingly straightforward examples of what God intended for mankind when he invented the electric guitar, then rejoice, because the boys of Kaleo do it similarly, and they do it very, very well. Though the band’s debut album plays things mostly safe, it also makes its larger-than-life ambitions crystal clear, straddling the fence between lo-fi garage and grandiose arena rock so intimately
‘My Brain,’ the crowdsourced debut EP from singer/songwriter Adda (AKA Arnþrúður Ingólfsdóttir), is a wonderfully austere, haunting body of folk songs. Playing fingerpicked acoustic guitar, Adda sings a lot about her turbulent mind (referring to her brain as a third person entity), as if she were in a passionate relationship with a partner. With all the highs and lows it entails, the intensity and emotional gravity of such feelings reverberate in Adda’s voice (with accompaniment from her sister Sunna). The rising, sustained two-note harmonies on “Taking Off,” for example, set your arm hairs on edge. Adda has in the past
It should be noted that when you first play ‘Höfuðsynd,’ the debut album from new band Atónal Blús, you quickly realise that despite the cool name, that they’re not really Arnold Schoenberg does John Lee Hooker. But that’s not to dispute that there’s some avant-garde tinkering at play here. The opening track, “Atónal Blús,” is a murky, buzzing, discoloured breakdown of a song that comes closest to the atonal aesthetic implied of the band’s name. From there it settles down into a spot-welded blend of heaving psych-inflected rock and interesting rhythmic patterns that could be seen as a little bit