He’s turned everyday things like eating hamburgers and tidying his room into a form of art, but it was through his not so everyday music that Birgir Örn Thoroddsen originally made his mark. His debut album, Haf, is very much a product of an era that saw the emergence of alternative acts such as Maus and Stilluppsteypa who, at the time, sounded like nothing heard in the local music scene before. Under his Curver moniker, Bibbi (as he’s known to his friends) was very much at the forefront of this new wave and has carried that momentum ever since, although more as a multi-artist than a musician these days.
In celebration of Haf’s ten-year anniversary, the album was re-released at the end of last year along with tracks from several compilations and one previously unreleased. Clocking in at 80 minutes, the resulting album, titled Sær 1991-1994, is complex and abrasive, even ear-piercing at times, but with elements of a certain pop-sensibility that seems to follow Curver around wherever he goes. Above all it’s the work of an ambitious and intrepid, if slightly naïve, teenager realizing his potential and searching for new ways to achieve it.
Throughout the 17 songs featured on this album, Bibbi thrashes out some sonorous guitar riffs in the vein of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth while his computer provides the beats and background noises. In fact, Curver isn’t simply a one-man band but a collaboration, if you like, between man and machine, as noted in the informative liner notes. Some of “the band’s” earlier work is especially noisy and almost brutal while the songs on Haf lean much further into a dark, distant and more cold direction, with a conscious nod to The Cure, Joy Division and even Slint, to name a few. Obviously, a decade (or more in some cases) has passed since these songs originally saw the light of day but that only adds a bit of nostalgia to an already charismatic album that’s always worth a closer inspection, especially if you missed the first time.