Every year, Músíktilraunir (“Music Experiments”) are held to locate and reward the most innovative undiscovered bands in Iceland. To fully document this exciting and unique display of youthful talent and exuberance, the Grapevine sent two of its most refined and highbrow cultural commentators to the scene to observe and report, with fairly predictable results.
Sindri: I kinda like how simple it was. The lyrics need some work, though. I mean, how many fucking songs are there with the chorus ‘falling down’? It’s embarrassing.
Bob: My personal opinion is, I’m not such a big fan of the singer, but the guitarists, total pros, one thrashed on his strings, the other tuned up, I think they’re both fine, obviously they’re very well tuned.
MY FINAL WARNING
B: Right. The guitarist from the Final Warning is wearing a kilt. One million points… did you just say Gibson Explorer?
S: Yeah! Yeah, the other guitarist has a Gibson Explorer. Two million points.
[My Final Warning play their first song. Bob laughs uncontrollably throughout the entirety of it]
B: [Still laughing] well, that was My Final Warning. I’ve got to say… wow.
S: No. No, no, no, no…
B: …and that was Súr!
S: …or was it Placebo?
B: The singer’s got kind of that whiny, nasal voice, and he’s Brian Molko!
S: And there’s only two chords throughout the entire song.
B: I thought the guitar sounded a bit like mid-eighties Big Country.
S: …I’ve no idea what any of those words mean, but I’m inclined to agree.
B: And that was Samaris! Or basically Pascal Pinon, just crunching electronica.
S: That was lame. If these people place anywhere in the top three, I will kill somebody. The sad thing is, they probably will.
B: See, the issue I have with this, is not just the clarinet, but the fact is, this is almost like a side project. Why are they in Músíktilraunir? The band they’ve been in have already had international press coverage. They’re quite well known. Why are they doing a contest for unknown artists?
S: I don’t mind the idea of an electronic band winning, I’m not a complete bigot, I’m just saying, this is bad electronica. This is not interesting electronica in any way or shape or form. This is hack music.
B: Oh, no. Just no. We hope these guys don’t win. Very bland electronica, with clarinet.
S: The clarinet doesn’t make it any less bland, unfortunately, ‘cause I’ve heard interesting clarinet, and that was not it.
S: Fairly good folk-metal, except for the fucking drummer, he’s like the weak link in the band, he’s not doing anything exciting at all.
B: It was very technical, but I just can’t take my eyes off that singer! He looks like he’s walked in from ‘Devil’s Rejects’. There’s no way he’s under 25.
S: Yeah, I’m partially scared to say anything bad about this band, the singer looks though he’d just as soon eat me as look at me… but seriously, the drummer needs to get his act together if these guys are gonna realise their full potential.
B: But these guys have got potential, big potential.
S: Oh, yeah. It needs to be tighter. There’s a reason you expect total technical proficiency from bands like this; it only works if it’s perfect. It needs to be fucking perfect, and they just aren’t.
S: I believe I mentioned earlier that there’s an interesting way of playing clarinet; I think this is it.
B: They’ve actually stoked their entire reputation on this one instrument. I will say, it’s kind of weird, but it went to that kind of ‘folkanised Balkan’ but then they go head-first into bands like Orphic Oxtra…
S: The singer has a great voice, as well. It’s such a nice contrast from how everything else is so King Crimson-y, and his voice is so pop.
B: The main thing that differentiates this from all the other ‘Balkan’ bands in Iceland is definitely the drums and the bass. There’s a power in it, much bigger power… it’s not whimsical.
FOR THE SUN IS RED
B: Sindri, you look in pain.
S: My mother always told me that if I have nothing nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all.
B: Yep. My mum said many things, too.
S: What the fuck is going on?
B: I’m not sure.
S: First of all, it has to be said: what a fucking terrible name.
B: But, give it to them: he’s probably the only one so far who’s actually sweated in his fifteen-minute time frame.
S: That is true
B: It’s just unfocused.
S: Yeah, it’s like they can’t agree on the kind of music they want to make, but they know they want to fucking kick ass, for which there is something to be said, I guess.
JOE AND THE DRAGON
B: [Cackling hysterically] What the fuck was that?
S: That was synth-pop at its fucking best. This is like the one band so far whose album I would buy and listen to, I think. Catchy.
B: Yeah! Biggest cheer of the night so far. If these guys do not win―and write for Eurovision next year―then, there is no god.
S: Yeah… the thing is, I don’t think any of those poncy judges share your concept of…
S: So… post-rock much?
B: You think so too? I like the singer, though. She sang well.
S: Yeah! It’s like Deftones with a girl singing.
B: It’s like a post-rock, post-hardcore sound. Very melodic, very heavy.
S: Really fucking massive guitar sound! I really like that!
B: Very heavy bass, as well, and he’s playing like 500 notes per bar.
S: The guitarist is good, as well. At first I only noticed the bassist, but… I don’t know, rhythm guitar never gets the props it deserves. People never notice good rhythm guitarists, and I think this is one.
B: I actually really liked it, in the end.
S: Faultless. Not necessarily a winner, but… nothing wrong with it, either.
B: That band has broken me; I don’t want to be here anymore.
S: White-boy soul, is what you said?
B: Ah, no, the worst early-eighties white-boy jazz-funk that just… [buries head in hands].
S: It’s like Toto, but without all their grit and verve.
B: Thank god it’s over. Best band is Murrk, in my opinion.
S: What about second and third place?
B: Second would be Askur Yggdrasils and third place, Postartica. Joe And The Dragon gets my special ‘lifetime achievement award’.
S: I really like Postartica, but there’s nothing that jumps out at me and says that they’re necessarily winners. I don’t really like the kind of music Murrk play, but if I’m gonna be completely impartial, I like them best.
B: I saw last year on television, and there was no band that stood out, maybe I think it’s the same this year. Where’s the band that goes “Oh my God, where the hell have these guys been?”
S: Exactly. That tends to happen, and usually when that happens in Músíktilraunir, a band that’s very good technically, wins, so Murrk would be the obvious winners in this case. I would like to put Joe And The Dragon in third place, Murrk in second and Postartica in first. That’s my revised placings.
[the MC comes onstage and tells us that the judges have decided, and all their decisions were unanimous]
S: If they all agree on a band, it’s gonna be fucking Murrk, obviously. I don’t think they deserve it musically, but they deserve it technically.
[The Wicked Strangers win third place, while the second place goes to Súr]
B: I don’t know what to think about that.
S: I think that’s bollocks.
B: That means I’m gonna have to review these guys at Faktorý at fucking Airwaves. Ugh, Jesus… guys, we don’t get paid enough for this. That’s not right…
S: That’s… just… stupid. They’re not bad, but they don’t deserve a top-three place! The only way the judges can redeem themselves at this point is if Postartica win, but it’s gonna be Murrk.
[The winner is announced to be Samaris]
B: What? Who won it?
B: Oh, no! Pascal Pinon’s side project?
S: We’re fucking leaving.
B: Yeah, we’re just going outside. Fuck this.
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