On 5th May 2004 at 20:02 Anonymous 13 wrote...
What a great review. Off I go to get an album ...
Live at City Varieties on Tuesday, 27th April 2004
The last time I came to the City Varieties was about three years ago to see Sigur Rós. It's good to see the place hasn't changed that much since then, as I'm sitting here waiting for fellow country men (and woman) Múm (pronounced "moom" for anyone unfamiliar with Icelandic).
The support tonight comes from Animal Collective, a bunch of three guys who I've heard a bit about, but never any of their tunes. So it's an experience when they start playing, as this is easily the most fucked up thing I've seen in ages. There are two guitarists and a guy fiddling with beat machines and smacking the living crap out of some floor toms set up on stage. The beats are loud too, you know the ones I mean - so loud they start to regulate your heartbeat and start to fill your trousers. The guitars are treated with infinite amounts of delay and reverb, and the band never seem to be playing any chords or riffs - just randomly strumming the guitars is good enough for them. This is in equal parts enthralling as it is totally insane - the singer moves onto just yelping and screaming with the rest of his band (even without the aid of a microphone at one point) and replacing the techno-ish beats are delayed drum thumps. It's a pounding, even tribal experience in points. As one of the elderly ushers could be heard to say after the show - "I've heard some things in my time, but nothing like that". Imagine Yo La Tengo if they sacked Georgia Hubley and replaced her with an 808, then went on to consume their own body weight in LSD and you're nowhere near. For a truly mesmerising show, check them out.
As the interval is under way, and the audience split evenly about Animal Collective, Múm take to the stage to start sorting all their stuff out. And boy is there a lot of stuff. It takes them a solid thirty minutes to set up, with everything from laptops to accordions to saws to xylophones littering the stage.
After her twin sister Gyða left the band last year, it's been up to Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir to carry on the vocal duties to Múm's beautiful, ethereal music. She arrives on stage looking every part the seductive Icelandic maiden. With her unconventional beauty, her rather eccentric dress sense and her humble and shy approach, she's the main focal point of Múm. Especially seeing as how Gunnar and Örvar are locked away behind masses of equipment, she's certainly easy on the eye. And then there's her voice. Sounding like a five-year-old on helium, that voice of hers is beautifully wonderful and even hypnotic in parts.
The set tonight is mainly centred around the band's new album 'Summer Make Good', a collection of dark, beautiful and gorgeous electro-infused songs. The mixture of organic instruments and weird electro blips is one of the great things about Múm - they're not scared to use any instrument in their goal to finding the greatest songs ever.
A few of their older songs manage to sneak into the set, mainly from their second album 'Finally We Are No- One'. The music tonight seems so fragile and so vulnerable; it feels like it could break down at any point, snapped like a twig in the wind. Thankfully, the band manages to keep on track and then gently transport the audience to somewhere other than Leeds. Conjuring images of the deepest, darkest and most desolate places in Iceland, you get the feeling that Múm aren't about to break into a cover of 'Dancing With Myself'. Indeed, the album was recorded in two of the most remote lighthouses in Iceland, so anyone who says that music is not affected by its environment has to surely think again.
"Broken birdie!" some guy keeps yelling, and to which Kristín replies "ahh, we don't know that one!" My god she's great. Looking suspiciously like Ed O' Brien from Radiohead, and Orri from Sigur Rós, the two blokes in Múm scurry behind their laptops to trigger the beats and the weird noises, but then also help out with the instrumentation by playing guitar, xylophone, synths or even backing vocals at one point. Songs in tonight's set include the recent single 'Nightly Cares', the gorgeous 'We Have A Map Of The Piano', the dark and brooding 'The Ghosts You Draw On My Back' and the comparatively fun and lively 'Oh, How The Boat Drifts'. A special mention should go to the other three people on stage, making sure that Múm's music translates well on stage. There's the beautiful cellist drafted in from another Icelandic band (CDs were on sale at the merch table- now that's marketing!) the geeky looking synth/ organ player, and the crazy drummer dude who looks like a roadie, but fuck me if he didn't wail on that kit.
With the rolling beats and the weird samples, Múm have a sound all of their own. And whilst fellow Icelanders like Sigur Rós, Mínus, Leaves, Ampop etc. all have their own unique brand of music, no- one comes close to sounding all at once as beautiful, pretty, dark or even down right eerie as Múm. Well, maybe Björk.
As they leave the stage, my heart breaks a little at seeing Kristín walk away. I bet every guy in the audience felt the same thing, and so when they come back on for the encore ringing small bells, the wounds are healed. Well, for a little bit anyway. Leaving us with 'Green Grass of Tunnel', the Múm kids wave goodbye, leave the stage and then the lights come on. Goddamn, I wanted that to last forever, but as with all things, the good stuff has to end sometime. Thanks Múm, you made my night; or as they say in the coldest of countries, Takk.
The album 'Summer Make Good' and single 'Nightly Cares' are both out now on Fat Cat records.