Published July 20, 2015
The Bandcamp blurb for ‘We Came As We Left’, the second EP by Buspin Jieber (aka Murya, aka Guðmundur Ingi Guðmundsson) opens with the statement “Some call it Retro-Wave or even Retro-Futurism—we call it good music.” To that I can only say, retro compared to what? The fact is that the 80s revival has ended up lasting longer than the actual 1980s, leaving us with a swath of recombinated music that you’d simply call “80s music,” a simulacrum of a sound and style that bears little reality to the actual 1980s itself. You can see this with Jieber’s style, from the punning name (as noted in previous Grapevine issues by the Staumur boys, who likened him to fellow “80s music” pillager Com Truise) to the concept of the EP being stuffed with all sorts of references to “1980s” cultural signifiers such as fast cars and orange jumpsuits, Molly Ringwald and the film ‘War Games’.
Production-wise, I cannot find fault with this record. Every part of this EP moves along with shiny positronic grace and engineered precision. The synth lines pulse and glide alongside chrome-coated rhythmic surfaces with a polished sheen. Listening to “Knoblifter,” for example, I can easily envision a video consisting of found-footage shots from 1980s corporate information videos and aspirational TV advertisements. There are even moments, such as on the tracks “We Came As We Left” and “The Package,” where the slightly off-pitch melody lines and abstract vocal samples recall the dreaminess and drift of Boards of Canada.
But overall I found the experience of ‘We Came As We Left’ to be one of flatness, especially when compared to Jieber’s debut EP, ‘Night Drive’, which displayed a more visceral portrait of tech-romanticism and memory fog. It comes across as just too clean—too pristine to be an effective recollection of a bygone age. The glistening melodies and sunny bucolic bliss of endless highways, fast cars, and bright sunshine end up feeling a bit forced. The result is one of sounds and mental images lifted and stitched together from YouTube videos, instead of something formed from the faded melancholia of past experience or a thorough re-imaging of alternate sonic paths that “the 1980s” could have taken us to.