The thing with drones is that they don’t exactly move about very musically do they? So it’s a little discombobulating that Bruce Brubaker’s piano playing features so spritely across the length of this EP. It isn’t bad. It’s just discombobulating. The clue is in the title really. The piano is distinct from the drones rather than complementary as you would normally expect from drone music where everryytthhhiiiinnngggg mmoooooovvveeeesss slllllooooowwwwllllly. Furthermore, it also seems as though Brubaker is being “helped” with his playing by an annoying child who keeps trying to haphazardly hammer on the piano keys. It’s kinda cute at first, but then it just becomes tiresome. The deal with aberrations or shocks is that they’re strengthened by their infrequency, but they are all too frequent here. It detracts from the whole, which is frustrating because this EP is enjoyable, but it could be more so. That said, at least Nico is doing something a little different with a predominantly homogeneous genre and it will be interesting to see the territory that the two other releases in his “Drones” series explore.
Gusgus didn’t seem like a band that was in it for the long haul. Starting as a loosely strung collective of musicians, filmmakers, producers and vocalists, they seemed to the outsider like a mercurial proposition—a bubbling experimental formula with equal potential to expand, evaporate or explode. But after nine studio albums made over almost two dec-ades, Gusgus would be an essential inclusion on the Periodic Table of Icelandic Bands. They’ve not only continued, but thrived, recently coming into a run of form so rich as to become happily confounding. Along the way, they’ve shed skins more times than an old
The trio of musicians in Monotown (two of them brothers) released their first album, ‘In The Eye Of The Storm,’ this year. The album is a mix of folk harmonies, rock ballads, and up-tempo tracks. The title song is one of the most memorable on the recording, beginning with a Grizzly Bear-like arrangement of strings and layered harmonies, which pauses to transform into a more traditional rock number with warm electronics in the background. Sadly the close of the first track is where most of the excitement leaves. The album’s lyrics strive for simplicity, but end up with clichés: “my
‘Trash From The Boys’ is the best Icelandic album I have heard for a long time. It might be the best Icelandic album ever made. That might well be. I don’t know. Like a 21st century version of a younger, angrier, hungrier, dirtier, perverser, more cynical, more poisonus, more self-destructiverer version of that band Singapore Sling (I really miss Singapore Sling), Pink Street Boys provide a perfect and, frankly, much-needed antidote to all that hey! business that’s been contaminating our airwaves of late. This is neither wholesome nor pretty. I haven’t been able to discern any lyrics, but I’m fairly
Despite the name, this sampling of Record Records’ roster carries some of the most prominent bands in the country, and like its predecessor, travels through folk, rock, dance, and even reggae. “Indie music” and “Icelandic music” are pretty synonymous; if you’re making your own music in Iceland, chances are you could be categorized as “indie.” Furthermore, the genre divide within Icelandic music is smaller than most anywhere in the world, partly because there are fewer people in the country, and partly because the culture often embraces artists who explore many different areas. Regardless of the compilation’s targeted market, the album
Prins Póló, the essentially one-man-band project of Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson (Skakkamanage), has a new album out titled ‘Sorrí.’ I’m not sure what the “Sorry” is about, but perhaps it’s an ironic middle finger to those who might not like this very eclectic album. ‘Sorrí’ is a bit of an insider’s album that will likely be more amusing to Icelanders than foreigners. For starters, it’s all in Icelandic, and the melodies flow quickly. It also shows off clever Icelandic rhyme schemes. Prins Póló rhymes words that an English-language native would never dream of, like “sjarma” (“charm”) and “shawarma” (the meat preparation,
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