Published September 6, 2016
“Can I send you more than 500 words? There’s so much to say…” Lord Pusswhip asks me in a Facebook message. I empathize, but that’s exactly why we asked him to share. With one hand on the scene and one hand on the decks at all times, Pusswhip knows what’s good in Reykjavík music. His SoundCloud page is littered by old school samples and new school collaborations, and his own tracks occupy that strange brainspace that make you feel more chopped & screwed than the beat itself. We asked him for the inspirations behind his sound syntheses.
“In a Late Night with Conan O’Brien interview, our own musical sweetheart Björk described the Icelandic music scene perfectly – a bunch of isolated people hearing the music coming from abroad and misunderstanding it in a beautiful way.” Lord Pusswhip writes. He picked these albums to exemplify “something like that—the music from my city that affected me the most.”
Þeyr—’Þagað í hel’
In my opinion, Þeyr is the most interesting band to have ever emerged from Iceland. They had an experimental outlook towards music-making and an esoteric ideology, steeped in pagan occultism and conspiratorial thought, thanks to the band’s art director Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, now the chief goði of the Pagan Society.
The band’s most famous release is the post-punk landmark Mjötviður mær, but I am more fond of their first album, Þagað í hel which came out in 1980. It’s extremely diverse, gliding between disco, poppy rock and apocalyptic new wave.
According to the Wikipedia page, the legendary singer Ellý Vilhjálms had to persuade her husband, record company pioneer Svavar Gestsson to go ahead and release the album, despite him not liking its contents or album cover.
Check out: “En…”
The band Vonbrigði are best known for “Ó Reykjavík”, the explosive opening song of the classic ‘80s punk documentary Rokk í Reykjavík. However, their hard-to-find debut album Kakófónía from 1983 stands out as one of the hidden gems of the era. It’s very low-down, gritty and grimey death punk, bringing to mind darker anarcho-punk pioneers like Rudimentary Peni. The cover sports a poison-green color scheme with a still from the video nasty The Incredible Melting Man or a photo of a Nagasaki survivor—I can’t really tell. Either way, very fitting for this sort of music.
The year before, Vonbrigði had released their fantastic, self-titled EP. Some of those tracks I slowed down for a vinyl mix I made which also includes more Icelandic gems.
Check out: “6ý”
Another group of heavyweights from the punk era, Q4U was the hardest female-fronted band at the time. Their music instantly brings to mind Siouxsie & The Banshees, with a more disheveled feel and synthy edge.
The singer Ellý was notorious for challenging the conservative sexual mores of the time—she would perform topless and even boasted about her stripping career in an interview in 1990, evoking a kind of Cosey Fanni Tutti-esque transgressiveness. “Q1” was their only official album, released in 1982 – however I went with the compilation Q2 since it’s easier to find and includes the band’s entire catalogue.
Check out “Böring”
Evil Madness —’Demon Jukebox’
Evil Madness was a progressive supergroup comprised of our main film music composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, electro-musician DJ Musician, the Swedish BJ Nilsen and famed experimentalists Curver and Stilluppsteypa. Their music is a psychedelic synth homage to the wonderful horror and cult soundtracks of the ’70s, an introduction of sorts into the creepy and wonderful world of giallo and horror music. They also get kudos for being ahead of their time when it comes to the re-emergence of retro horror movie music in the mainstream.
Check out: “So Successfully Evil”
Singapore Sling—’Life is Killing My Rock’n’Roll’
I’ve heard this band aptly described as “cigarette” rock or “sunglasses” rock. A good friend of mine said once: “Instead of listening to Sling you can just listen to Jesus & Mary Chain —same effect.” I definitely know what he means—this was the Icelandic answer to noisey, drug-addled rock like Spacemen 3 and it COULD be construed as generic. However, the band’s songwriting has always been spectacular—they really are up there as one of the best neo-psychedelia bands of the decade.
Megas – Millilending
HAM – Saga rokksins 1988 – 1993
XXX Rottweiler Hundar – Self-Titled
Björk – Debut
Mínus – Jesus Christ Bobby
Klink – 666° N
Wormlust – The Feral Wisdom