From Iceland — All Too Earthly Pleasures

All Too Earthly Pleasures

Published November 10, 2014

Ghostigital slayed Airwaves closing night. Beam us up.

Parker Yamasaki
Photo by
Daníel Starrason

Ghostigital slayed Airwaves closing night. Beam us up.

We’re just about to beam up. We’re seriously there. Einar stands crouched and shaking on stage with his pointer finger in the air. His eyes are closed painfully tight. The audience has ceased to be an audience, we are his minions now in this cult-like contact with the sound gods of strange. And then his eyes open. And the music cuts. Einar digs his pointer finger into his ear and “answers” his earplug.


“They did this to me last year, too,” he says, ending the call. “They want me to cut to a commercial break. WE WERE ABOUT TO BE BEAMED UP AND WE HAVE TO CUT TO A COMMERCIAL BREAK.”

The trance is broken. Curver starts up a steady beat, the audience laughs and is instantly morphed back into the confused thrashing mass it was before the almost-enlightenment.

There are two reasons why Ghostigital are my favourite live act in Iceland. First, there is the sheer amusement of watching a group of people trying to figure out how to move their bodies to their music. On the one hand, one is in a state of hyper-awareness: attentively listening to Einar’s mixture of lyricism, storytelling, and ranting while trying to keep up with Curver’s hyper productions. On the other hand, one must completely shed all sense of self-awareness in order to really feel and dance to this music. It is pure conflict.

Secondly, there is the metal-cold truth in it. This music is a comment, full of societal discontents. What music isn’t, you ask? It’s true, this is a safe and vague statement. But Einar is pretty explicit about exactly what he is discontent with. Take the “commercial break” stunt, for instance. Or the lyrics to ‘Not My Government:’ “NEI! NEI! This is not my government. This is not my government. Who’s government is it? Shit if I know…”

One of my favourite examples of Einar’s casual revealing of truths is in the track he opened with: hvar eru peningarnir mínir (“where is my money?”). Instantly it feels like Einar is asking the audience, personally, where his money is. It is a regular conversation, he just happens to be on stage with the mic. And then he throws the curve-ball:

“I am NOT in the Church of Scientology,” Einar declares, over and over. “I am not and I can prove it because I blink!” He hides his face in his jacket. “I just did a massive blink in my jacket! Therefore, I am not in the Church of Scientology! DO YOU BELIEVE?”

Sure, I believe.

Then he one-eighties. “I AM in the Church of Scientology, because I DO NOT BLINK!” He stares with brutal intensity. “DO YOU BELIEVE me now???”

Sure, I believe.

It is not his conflicting statements that are so true, but the conflict itself. Their music is one stroke social content and one stroke absolute nonsense, the point being that they are actually one and the same. And this, the duo (and for the Húrra show, added saxophonist) manage to get across through their perfectly harmonious disharmonies. Humour and intensity. Self-awareness and letting-go. Contradicting beliefs. It is a perfect conflict. And if we can manage to accept this, maybe one of these days we will get beamed the fuck out of here.

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