The Krútt War Continuum: Just Another Snake Cult: Helvítis Krútt

08 Feb

An interesting post on the state of a genre of Iceland’s Exported music, often given the term Krútt (meaning “Cute” or “Twee”) from the Icelandic artist known as Just Another Snake Cult. It’s all part of the never-ending war between people who appreciate the  genre and those who completely detest it.

Just for the record, I’ve often used the term “Krútt” in a derogatory fashion for a number of icelandic bands and artists in the past, although i should really stop doing it’s a very lazy general shorthand for describing music, such as Rockist or Indie Landfill (although Indie landfill was a bloody good descriptive term at the time). If i do use krútt it will certainly be as its english meaning “Twee”, so i would describe someone as Hafdis Huld as krútt, not because she uses glockenspiels, wears woolly jumpers or has lots of echo and reverb in her sound,  rather it’s because of her constant coquettishness, lightweight tunes, stupid smiles and desperately-trying-to-be-kooky lyrics. Glad we got that sorted.

I will say though that even though foreign music media would love to portray all Icelandic bands as somehow otherworldly and ethereal, it doesn’t mean that bands have to willingly skip down that route. We don’t all believe in elves you know…



Posted by on February 8, 2011 in Iceland, literature, music


Tags: , , ,

5 responses to “The Krútt War Continuum: Just Another Snake Cult: Helvítis Krútt

  1. Þórir Bogason

    February 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Well, here’s another topic that it’s about time to set straight!

    What Icelandic people believe in is hidden people (huldufólk), not so much elves. Much as majority of Americans believe in ghosts, not to speak of the overwhelming amount that believe in spirits, angels, etc. Since hidden people is basically the same concept as ghosts or spirits, it’s really not so remarkable.

  2. bobcluness

    February 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    but how many Icelandic people truly believe in Huldufólk today? As most people have now moved away from the old life of the country to a modern urban setting, the long held belief in spirits i would think is truly on the wane and is more in line with many post-religious countries.

    • Þórir Bogason

      February 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      “Truly” believe? How many American people truly believe in ghost? Yet in the right mindset an unexpected bump in the night still spooks many of us. I think you’d be surprised how many post-religious people the world over hold superstitious beliefs despite scientific upbringings.

      But then also, most of the world is religious. And so belief in gods, angels, spirits, ghosts, etc. is quite common. And so yes, Iceland may indeed be comparatively less superstitious (if you’ll grant that religion is superstition (which it is)) than the world at large. The translation of huldufólk as “elves,” to me is the most bothersome aspect, as it is deliberate propaganda (perhaps by Icelanders) to paint Icelanders as quaint, eccentric, fairy-tale, Vikings and hobbits.


      I grew up in the States and I have seen ghosts on a few occasions, once even with a group of friends. Despite being an atheist and “knowing” that these experiences can variously be accounted for by illusions of light or being in a near-dream state, there’s still a sense in which I’ve had “ghost experiences,” which–scientific or not–are a part of my subjective experience of the world. Why should I disregard those in favor of others, such as waiting in line at a grocery store, which perhaps have stronger scientific-grounds but are a whole lot less meaningful to me.

      We mustn’t forget that most of the time we visit a doctor, they can’t really tell us what’s the matter but “try some this and see what happens,” or that much of what comes out of scientific research is more chemicals that harm our bodies and the world and the constituents of a lifestyle that seems to be missing the point or otherwise unfulfilling. There’s a very real sense in which science does not have the answers. And not just because it’s still in its infancy, but because by its very methods it performs a reduction on the vibrant fields of experience.

      Superstition is not going away.

      • Þórir Bogason

        February 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

        I mean, it would be like an American travel brochure advertising “Can you believe this?! Americans believe in /angels/!”

        They do. Big deal.

  3. Guðmundur

    February 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I think the same applies to elves as to Santa Claus. People think they are a cool possibility but are also pretty sure they don’t exist.


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