From Iceland — In Remembrance of Biogen, Reykjavik's own electronica partisan

In Remembrance of Biogen, Reykjavik’s own electronica partisan

Published October 14, 2011

In Remembrance of Biogen, Reykjavik’s own electronica partisan

Various electronic groups from the Weirdcore crew and the recently established Möller label played Faktorý this Thursday in honour of the late, great Sigurbjörn Þorgrímsson, who passed away last February. Sigurbjörn, most often known as Bjössi Biogen, was a member of the ’90s hardcore techno duo Ajax, he co-founded the Thule record label and was later a member and driving force of the Weirdcore crew. Biogen was an electronica stalwart in Iceland and he will be greatly missed.

Bypass are a fresh-faced duo of teenagers who do techno/house music. In the first song they used heavily transposed jazz piano and distorted vocal samples. Repetitive as hell, a bit creepy but groovy enough to shake yer ass to. Bypass and fellow house band Captain Fufanu are certainly painting a horror-film grimace on the already ass-ugly face of house music in Reykjavik.

Another teenaged duo, Yoda Remote are best known for their 8-bit sound, a bit like a Nintendo Entertainment System on crack rock. It’s over the top, a bit anthemic, very hyperactive and definitely not agreeable to everyone’s musical palate, since it’s the equivalent of a hyperactive child squirming in it’s pants after being put in the corner for eating all the candy. However, they came as a surprise because their sound is much tighter now than before, and their directions in music need to have tightness and dynamic, as the 8-bit sound is difficult to achieve. They just need to keep on playing and evolving their sound. Also, turn up the goddamn vocoder.

Steve Sampling is a rock in the Icelandic hip-hop scene; he appeared as Mezzías MC on a few legendary ’00s rap compilations such as Rímnamín and Bumsquad, and is a respected producer. Like the name suggests, he’s obviously more of a producer than an emcee though. Steve plays smoked-out instrumentals with dubby percussion and dreamy soundscapes. In the past few years he’s shifted away from the old school hip-hop mien to a trippier-hop, not sounding like your typical beatmaker at all. By the end of his set he plays an electro number in which italo-disco type synths suddenly burst, definitely crossing genres. But music genres are odious, especially when it comes to music journalism. Didn’t Cicero say that?

Marlon and Tanya are cousins of the great musical lineage the Pollocks. They form the duo PLX, appearing with their signature bunny and tiger masks, respectively. They play spooky electronica, segueing from serene sounds to intense. Actually, the performance started out quietly and in a few minutes became a full-blown, crazy-ass drum and bass rollercoaster. During the jungle cacophony, Marlon unveils his human identity after shedding the bunny face and starts dancing like a mo’fucka. He is joined by a baboon-man in a football jacket and a mouse-woman. The whole scene is eerily reminiscent of the masked pagan terror rituals in the 1973 classic the Wicker Man.

Skurken has been on the electro circuit in Reykjavik for a long time and plays a glitchy, shoegaze variation of electro (Ulrich Schnauss anyone?), with massive drops and a thick sound. He’s obviously very much into his music seeing as he goes hard on stage but if he didn’t, he’d just look like a bank manager in front of his laptop. The music is good but in the end, a bit too tedious and long-winded.

Stereo Hypnosis Father and son – Óskar Thorarensen from art/music collective Inferno 5 and Pan Thorarensen, also known as Beatmakin Troopa, form the duo Stereo Hypnosis. They have a unique sound that would be described best as organic – serene and laid-back electronica that draws up pictures in one’s mind of our country‘s quiescent highlands or the Atlantic. Despite the extreme chillness, their live shows are a lot more riveting than the studio recordings. We can say that with Stereo Hypnosis, way more earthy energy is released live than on wax.

Futuregrapher plays electronica, seemingly influenced by psilocybin, since he looked like he was having a goddamn religious experience on stage. It’s beginning to be the high point of the show, by now a lot of people are shaking it to Futuregrapher’s acidic jazz and breakbeat stylings. Not many people can play jumping around on the stage, with their wingspans stretched out and glazed over eyes, like Futuregrapher does. The stage presence is the key and the whole thing just reminded me of those liberty bell mushrooms that grow on Reykjavik’s many traffic roundabouts.

Quadruplos are rising stars in the Reykjavik electro scene, their eponymous 2010 debut got rave reviews and their live shows are always crazy as hell. They play brutal and noisy techno that sounds like it’s recorded in an airlock. They’ve definitely reached status as one of the most promising electronica bands in Reyjavík in the last years. BANG YOUR HEAD!

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