Live Reviews: Reykjavik Grapevine: Musiktilraunir 2013! The Fresh First Pressings!

13 Apr

A few weeks ago, I decided to go back to the site of many a troubled moment for yours truly and review once again the unsigned bands competition, Musiktilraunir. And, after some finicky editing work from the masters, the article is now available HERE at the Grapevine site to read in all it’s glory,

It wasn’t too bad an experience (although they wouldn’t allow me to walk into the venue with my beer – FASCISTS!!! etc), but this time my wingman was the ever effusive (Yet totally cynical) Birkir Fjalar, who was there to provide a second voice and some context. Birkir is actually the second person I’ve been with to this who was once a judge at the contest (The other was Sindri Eldon), so his opinions on the contest are something that people should take good notice of.

Musiktilraunir seems to have really changed now since I started laying my eyes and ears on the thing 4 years ago. Since OMAM have signed to Universal, and now Samarís have signed to One Little Indian in the UK, the contest is now seen by many people as a clear fast track to the top. Win this, and you are at least guaranteed a big shot at something. In fact the prizes this year were also shifted with pretty much the winner getting everything (Including 250,000 ISK from record label Sena), and the runners-up getting comparatively fuck all, not even a spot at Iceland Airwaves.

Because of this the acts show a more polished and professional schtick with everyone seeming to exhibit clear signs of over earnestness. In fact only the acts Skerðing or In The Company Of Men seemed to have no fucks to give about the austere sense of the occasion. A lot of the contestants are a lot older now with most being in their early/near mid ’20s (perhaps a sign of the growing delayed adulthood that most of society exhibits these days?), and the “Craft” is so much more evident now. Yes, the “Craft.” I had to explain this to my editor, being that you get people who are so proficient on their instruments, but when it comes to actually making really interesting songs or doing something that would make you sit up and take notice, they lack that certain spark. Some of the acts such as CeaseTone showed this in spades.

Indeed what was not conveyed in the review was Birkir’s views on the how the event looks and feels now compared to previous years  He was frankly bored over the first half,  and apart from a few acts that did interest him (Such as Kjurr), it wasn’t really raising his blood pressure that much. He noted that back in the day, many of the acts were much younger, near to the age of the kids that were in Yellow Void. He also noted that in past contests, there was also more of a sense of youthful aggression and snottiness, that they were doing things THEIR way. It was interesting to note that the GV Facebook page that day posted a video of cult ’90s Icelandic band Botnleðja performing at the contest back in 1995. the fact is that this is way rougher, harsher and brighter than what was played this year, yet I honestly think that if this band entered this year, they’d never actually reach the final. 

But there were some good points. Both of us did think that for the best part, the judges got it right with the final three, especially the winners, VÖK. I do hope that they can really expand on their sound and try to do their own thing away from the meddling of many of the more established scene heads. What was impressive and made them more distinctive than Samarís was that they had better melodic hooks and a much more powerful, and more sensual vocalist. There is some real potential going on there

Ahh, perhaps all of this comes in waves. Perhaps in a year or two, we’ll see bands kick against this sterile nonsense and try to do something to stir up the established order of things. If it does, I certainly hope to be there at the front laughing my head off.

To sign off, here’s the best song from the winner Vök. I’m off to the pub now…

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Posted by on April 13, 2013 in Iceland, music


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