Category Archives: live music
During my hiatus from blogging, I somehow ended up becoming a member of the improbably awesome and perpetually disorganised FALK (Fuck Art Lets Kill), the art/music collective that is fronted by my good friends Aðalsteinn (AMFJ) and Baldur (KRAKKKBOT). As part of our ongoing quest to shake some of the dead skin of the rotting corpse that is the “Icelandic music scene,” we’re looking to bring some of the better, more interesting artists up here.
So when the guys from GRUMBLING FUR agreed to come up to a special Easter gig we were setting up with SIN FANG, well…. that just made our celebration of the death of the God-child just that little bit more special.
If you’re around downtown Rvk at the beginning of Easter, then pay us a visit!
Details below (Or go to the FB event page for vids and more info)
Who: GRUMBLING FUR + SIN FANG
When: Wed 1st April
Cost: 2500kr (a goddamn BARGAIN if you ask me!!)
but don’t take my word for it, have a listfor yourself…
So as part of my studies at the University of Iceland, there is a website/part journal for the Arts & Humanities faculty student called SIRKUSTJALDIÐ. It’s not been going for long (A little over a year), but the point of the site is to foster and develop critical debate among the students there. Actually get them to use some of dat der theory we’re stuffing in our craniums outside of the classroom.
I was asked if I could perhaps do some writing for them. And I’ve written a couple of pieces for them. alas you can’t seem them yet as it’s an Icelandic site and therefore all my essays have to be translated (I really do feel for them on that score, especially if I went all beat-cyberpunk poetry on them!).
For my first essay, I wrote a piece about our resident Iceland Queen Banshee, BJÖRK, and her current album Vulnicura. the thing is that I don’t actually talk about the music as such. It’s not that I think that the music is bad. Actually it’s really good, but I personally found the whole theme of her doing a “breakup” album to be the least interesting part of the whole release. instead I riffed for 2000 words on the imagery of the album art and the video trailer to her MoMA retrospective, noting the aesthetic similarities with her ’90s explorations re: Trans-and-posthumanism, and techno-hybridisation (digital liquid flesh, etc, etc). I also noted the connections with today internet aesthetic tribes from PC music to Health goth, and how they are have an affinity in that they are also mining ’90s digiculture aesthetics, something that she was doing the first time around. Instead of a situation of an artist latching onto the cool kids in a bid to stay relevant, it’s more like the other way round. She’s their internet mother hen basically. If you’ve ever heard her mix that she recently did with Tri-Angle records on Rinse FM, she was dropping stuff that was waaaaay more current and forward-looking that what most parochial fools round here would even bother listening to.
So hopefully people will enjoy the essay when it eventually comes out (I’ll post it here in English), but while we’re waiting, Björk has dropped two music videos to accompany the album. So what I’m writing here is a bit of a epil-prologue (is that even a thing?).
The first one is for the track “Lionsong.” This has Björk in her “fetish cyborg” form alluded to in the images from her digital rush-release. You’ve got a chest (her own presumably) wrapped tight and heaving, throbbing, and squirming underneath, a shiny casing, while we see Björk moving and twirling in front of the camera. As well as the shiny, smooth surfaces that come from her body suit, what is interesting is the cloudy wisps of light that constantly surround her. they seem to act like a mix of aura, pollen release and digital bio-electric fields. It looks great tbh. Slippery emotions when wet.
And then along came the second video, this time for “Family.” Now this one is a different kettle of shiny fish, taking its cure from the “exploding digiflesh” art for the physical release. the beginning seem to show the Björk “statue” at night. You can definitely see the kinship with the visual textures of Arca/Jesse Kanda’s videos – a mix of glistening metallic planes and melted plastic, luminous, yet weirdly artificial. We eventually see Björk statue as a rocky crop being reanimated by some kind of Gel. She then proceeds to mend the gaping hole in her heart with beads and augmented reality thread before emerging chrysalis-like from her shell, reborn. Compared to the previous video, it’s definitely way more ambitious in her thinking. Ideas of rebirth, nature, and inorganic materials coming together in a rather coherent yet ambitious way.
The Grapevine asked me to go to TECTONICS REYKJAVIK 2014 and cast my critical judgement upon them (mwahahaha!)
And that’s what i did. You can now go and read it online HERE.
Well… that’s all now done and dusted now for another year. Yup SONAR Reykjavik passed off for another year with nay a hitch (Well one or two little ones), and most of our reputations are intact.
So what did we like? Well below is the total coverage from The Grapevine over the weekend, spelling mistake, and shitty grammar aplenty! Go and click and have a good read!
FRIDAY – HERE
So in the end what were the pluses and minuses that can be gleaned from the festival? Let’s start with the pluses….
THE OVERALL PERFORMANCES: now this can be subjective because we’re not doing Airwaves here.You’re not stuck in one venue so if you get a bit bored you can be like a punter and go exploring. But across the board, the DJ and live performances I saw were really good this year. International acts such as DAPHNI and Jon HOPKINS exceeded expectations while many of the locals upped their game.
A MAN NAMED EXOS: He’s been away for a little while, and there’s a whole warts and all story about the guy and his exploits over the previous decade that one day needs to be written. But if there was one act that showed that there was something missing in Icelandic dance culture that needed to be filled, it was Addi Exos. Natalie Yamaho was brilliant, but I’ve gotta say that the level of mixing, set selection and timed drops we heard form Addi was on a major par with some of the best out there and definitely some of the best Techno DJ’ing I’ve seen in from an Icelander. Heck it was some of the best techno DJÍng I’ve heard in a while, full stop. And you could tell he was loving it big style, the way he was standing there, smiling and cheering the crowd on. He’s hopefully going to be releasing remixed and new stuff this year. I will be trying my best to my hands on the stuff.
HOUSE MUSIC IN ICELAND MAY BE BACK (It never went away of course!): One of my main bugbears with local dance music was that looking back a couple of years ago, the house scene was frankly stale as mouldy toast. There was way too much bland minimal house music being produced and played, and many of the older DJs were relying on tired old moves and classics to an audience that didn’t know any better. But the SONAR weekend showed that over the last 12/15 months, there have been major signs that good house music is making a resurgence on this Island. While they can’t take all the credit, you have to lay a lot of this at the door of the guys from BORG. As mentioned in the review, the three of them have the right attitude from the outset, with a clear identity and goals, as well as pushing in new styles, moves and sounds from good deep house to UK garage and footwork. All this has placed a bit of a rocket up the bums of some of the other DJs in the scene. FKNHNDSM was the best I’ve heard them in ages, while INTRO BEATS is turning from a hip hop beats man into a rather nifty deep house DJ/producer that took quite a few by surprise. There is going to be releases from BORG as well as Lagaffe Tales over the coming year. Lets hope that this can be built upon and people push each other to even better things.
LESSONS LEARNT: Overall the organisers learnt some of the lessons form the problems last year. They had a proper procedure with media passes this year (Last year was amateur hour over there). While their work at the bay view area venue showed the ability to change a venues sound and atmosphere completely for the better.
So what about the negatives? Weeeeell….
FUCKING DIPLO: Jesus man, he was just awful. A friend I know back in Blighty said that I’d find his live sets “interesting” and I did go to his live show thinking “Okaaaay, maybe he’s going to pull something interesting out the bag here.” But to be honest, everything about the man just sounded and felt wrong. As i was leaving another local DJ walked out with me and he was actually angry about what he’d just seen (“How can a guy that be so shit, yet so popular?”). Well he’s taken on that party hard/keep on slammin’ attitude to the nth power, along with getting the local women onstage to take some clothes off and “twerk”… and people seemed to like that. He’s the Slurms McKenzie of the EDM world. they can keep him. Not a good booking IMHO.
WE’VE GOT OUR EYE ON YOU (nick nick): Now every event needs security of some form. Something may happen or people get hurt or require assistance. This is accepted by everyone. But the level of security theatre at SONAR this year was way beyond anything I’ve seen for this style of event. It´s all very well organisers saying that the media focused way too much on the number of people arrested over the weekend for drugs offences (around 45 in total over 3 nights) but It was things such as the use of sniffer dogs on Thursday to the look the security projected (most of them had that look of a pissed of bouncers wearing leather fingerless gloves). It certainly surprised several of the tourists that I spoke to who came to SONAR this year. Add to that rumours of undercover security keeping an eye on comings and goings to the toilets, and it left a slightly paranoid taste in the mouth for quite a few people. Our bright future. Not wow.
SCHEDULING: Yup there were some great acts and some good performances, but there were a few occasions where the scheduling of acts made you think “why the hell did they do that?” It´s pretty much a science as well as an art and a perfect example of this was on Thursday at the bay view area, where you had Intro Beats building up a really huge crowd, only for the ’80s synth rock of Kiryama Family to pretty much bring the energy levels riiiiiight down. There were a couple of times you had things like this over the weekend, where you have dance music DJs playing to less than 10 people in places like Silfurberg which is DJ hell for anyone. That brings me to
YOU, THE CROWD: OK, overall you guys were great at dancing to music and stuff. And I get it; alcohol is expensive and the thought of having to go a whole night in a place that charged 1000kr for a 400ml plastic cup of beer filled me with dread as well. But on Thursday and Friday, there was a real lack of energy in Harpa over the first couple of hours, as people decided to wait until later to come and see most of the bigger acts who were playing. I found that this for me was a real buzzkill as you had are acts who in some ways are playing to no one and that sucked. Your apparently really cool party people who have this legendary reputation. Show it better.
There were other niggling issues about SONAR that made me go “Hmmm…” such as the lack of female representation among the international artists, the sense that a lot of the artists booked were from their mates in Denmark (SIX acts from there this year!) which seemed to show a slight narrowing in ambition and knowledge of what is happening in dance music out there*. Also some of the online discussions between locals DJs and the organisers about issues such as pay got a little too overheated, with accusations of lies and hatefulness, general oversensitivity from all concerned, comment threads being taken down and all round internet drama occurring.
But yeah…. SONAR was good fun and enjoyable this year. I’d give it a definite plus, with continuous room for improvement. Bloody ingrates, we’re never satisfied are we? Mind I lost count of the number of times i got my taps aff. Let’s see what happens next year, OK?
And while you’Re thinking about that, here’s a recent remix of a classic EXOS track from another Icelandic electronic Legond, Ruxpin…
* – What was interesting when I spoke to some of the local DJs and people in the scene, that when the subject of the upcoming Secret solstice festival came up, there was not a single negative comment about it! Everyone was really excited to be going and the consensus was that while it is slightly UK-centric in the acts, the dynamism of the music in the line up was absolutely brilliant. Can’t wait personally.
While I was back in the cradle of civilization (i.e. London) this summer, I ventured over to the east of the city one evening on the advice of a friend to check out what seemed to be a nascent local DIY electronics scene occurring over there. The location for observation was Power Lunches, a former cafe in Dalston that housed a fairly makeshift concert space in the basement below.
Despite Power Lunches looking like a bomb had hit it repeatedly in the face, the place had a nice crumpled charm to it. They only sold cans at 3 quid a pop, while the shelves were full of vinyl for the DJs to play whatever they wanted. The reason for being there was to attend inaugural club night of new DIY label of KIT RECORDS. Titled Kit club, it was the latest offshoot in a growing venture that included a radio show on London’s NTS radio, a printed local zine, online mixes, as well a record label.
Although there were some first night nerves, the night itself went down really well. I ended up speaking to pretty much who’s who in this local scene. As well as seeing such acts as oMMM (Who bizarrely has played in Iceland before, back in 2008. Mundi – He wants his synths back!) and Alien Jams, I also got to meet my old friend Jonny (Mugwump, he of Exotic Pylon records), as well a catch some time with the likes of Anthony Chalmers (Promoter to power Lunches, Robot Elephant Records honcho, and was also DJ’ing there) and one of the guys who runs Dramatic Records, I also managed to spend some time speaking the two fine peeps who run Kit Records, Richard Greenan and Sarah Jones. They were more than accommodating to this lumpen out-of-towner who found himself repeatedly knocking things over and getting stuck in the incredibly tiny seated booths upstairs.
When I eventually got back to Iceland, I decided to get in touch with Richard and Sarah to ask them a few questions to find out a bit more about what it is that they’re getting up to over at KIT…..
So to start off, we should probably back from when I met you both in London, to the beginning. Tell us a bit about yourselves as sentient humans. What are your backgrounds, and how did you both first meet up?
Sarah: We both grew up in seaside towns of varying decrepitude on the south coast. We went to different universities but we’d bump into each other now and then as we shared the same group of friends – hanging out in pubs, house parties or at not-very-good Art College exhibitions. We didn’t really speak much – though I did once congratulate Richard on a DJ set he was doing at a party, so clearly our shared musical taste was apparent even then.
Things got more interesting when the dust settled in everyone’s lives after uni and we all found ourselves living in London. We’d all meet to have dinner at Richard’s amazing condemned Brutalist ’70s housing estate in Whitechapel. And he and I found that we had loads in common. The rest, as they say, is like the ending of Jurassic Park – helicoptering madly away from a terrible island awash with dinosaurs.
After you two get together, somewhere along the road the idea of KIT comes to life. Where did the idea of KIT come from? What came first. the radio show, or the record label?
Sarah: Well, then the time came for us to move down to Brighton. We lived in a little top floor flat, you could see the sea from the window. It was a pretty bleak winter, the kind in which seaside towns become particularly redundant. But we were always coming up with ideas, playing records, and reading about music. It was like a glowing jewel in this salty, cold landscape. We realised that, despite Brighton being a cultural melting pot, we tried, and to an extent failed, to find a proper music scene. I mean, there are bits and bobs, sure – but nothing really that dedicated or conspicuous, just loads of BIMM students and half-arsed anarchist noise-bands.
I’d been to uni in Edinburgh and got to know, and be inspired by, Fence Records, who created a cult following in a quite remote corner of Scotland. We realised that we wanted to do the same thing in Sussex – to bring creative people together, have an aesthetic, and put on all-day gigs, release music, form a community. And to write about music. We know there are a million and one music websites on the Internet, but we wanted ours to quietly give our perspective. It’s not all-singing, all-dancing, or obnoxious – it’s simple, well designed and interesting (we think).
I’m a drummer and that had a bearing on the naming of Kit. Also we felt we were putting something together, building it, which is what a kit is for. And it’s easy to spell, easy to say, and neat as a pin so it fits well.
Ric has been doing his radio show since well before we became a couple, so that’s been a constant. I brought my plans to the table, plans I’d had for many years, to create a music and art project, with a community and live music aspect to it. We moved back to London for work reasons, and that’s ended up being a massive boost for Kit. We’ve realised that London is a great equaliser – people have arrived here from all over the place, so it’s a good place to start for us.
And for that matter what is the main ethos/aesthetic behind KIT? Is there a plan behind the show/label/zine/club night or has it been a case of taking advantage of opportunities when they arise?
Sarah: I’m a freelance illustrator and I usually work with ink, and that goes into the Kit ‘look’. Richard’s got a great visual style too, he could be an art director, he sources images and puts them together really well. We don’t take it too seriously, but we do want to make it interesting and meaningful.
We’ve been given the great good fortune of getting to know Anthony Chalmers through NTS, and he’s the promoter for Power Lunches, in Dalston, so we hold Kit Club there. It’s been a really great venue – there’s an upstairs, for hanging out and drinking, and a downstairs, for watching live music and sweating away 57% of your body weight. It works well.
The zine is a collation of our favourite interviews and articles since the last Kit Club – there have been some corkers. For example, there’s an Ethiopian nun who has spent a lifetime making music and has never written it down. This nun lives an austere existence in Tel Aviv but has an incredible inner life, full of music. We interviewed the lady who’s transposing it for her – a complete labour of love. That went into the zine. But that’ll be next to an article about a tape label we discovered during a weekend in Galway, or a mix from one of our favourite artists. Next time there’s going to be a comic strip by the genius Matt Layzell. No two pages are the same!
One thing I noticed when I attended the first KIT CLUB back in June was that there seemed to be some sense of a “community” or scene among the people that were there, people who were interested in creating and curating small DIY music labels and producing interesting . Is there actually such a community or was I just imagining it? If there is a concerted scene going on, can you give us a short primer on what is going on in terms of labels/artists/venues, etc.
Sarah: Thanks, that means a lot to us. We’ve been continuously surprised and delighted by the warmth of the people we’ve met through Kit Club. People have kept coming back, too. We think it’s because we ask interesting, offbeat musicians to come and play, and this inevitably leads to learning things from them, making friends, and quite often getting a bit wankered. It’s easy to make friends with these kinds of people. People are good, really. It’s certainly not a concerted scene – It´s all still nebulous and new. But some people are in scenes already, across London and the UK, so we’ve dipped our toes in a few of them. There’s so much creativity out there, and you learn about it by getting to know people. Simple.
You’re in the process of releasing your first record, an album by a mysterious person known only as THE NAGS HEAD. Can you shed some light on this person and why they decided to name themselves after the pub in Only Fools And Horses?
Sarah: The Nag’s Head is something of a mystery. He creates amazing beats obscured amongst found sounds; joyous dancing rhythms swathed in the melancholia of crisp packets on the Isle of Dogs. He lives in Brighton, but we can’t tell you more than that. You really have to listen his music, to discover and re-discover things within it. He’s very nice, too. We became a bit obsessed with his album, Live from Concrete Island, and we think that tape is the right way to present it to one’s ears. Actually, when the tape first came back from the factory, we took turns to listen to it via a walkman. It was amazing. After years of MP3s and YouTube, tape sounds like nothing else. Really rich and full. Like a good Sunday roast. Ears need a Sunday roast now and then, not just endless bags of popcorn.
So now things are starting to take off a bit with KIT. What is on the horizons for yourselves in the near future? More releases? Bigger and better nights? What are your ambitions?
We want to take things on the road, to meet more people, to keep the quality of Kit Club at a reliable and fascinating standard. Eventually we hope to put on all-day gigs. We’ll release more tapes, eventually we’ll move on to Vinyl LPs, which is surely the best way to listen to music. Richard is writing away all the time, and sourcing new acts for Kit Club. I’ve started playing live as Synaesthete, and I’m working on an EP. In fact, as I write this, I’ve just given up my soul-sucking desk job in order to focus on being creative. Right now, we don’t want to be weighed down by an agenda. We just want to try our best and have fun, natural fun.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your band Synaesthete. I take it from the name that you are ale to see sounds or words as colours, is that correct? and with regards to playing, how have the live experiences been so far, and how has the reception been for you?
I do have synaesthesia. I see numbers and letters in colour in my head. I named my musical project after it because I like the idea of combining two experiences, or skills – as a singer as well as a drummer; as a musician as well as an illustrator.
I’ve only played one gig – Kit Club 2! – so it’s still in its early days. I’ve got a background of being in bands, but this is a solo project. It’s all about rhythm and vocals, so i use two tom drums, and a 606 drum machine, drum sampler pad, a loop pedal, and a vocal pedal. I build up the rhythm piece by piece, then sing over it, loop my singing, and add things to the mix – plus, there are melodies and basslines. I’m going to be recording soon so I’ll keep you posted! It went really well live, I got some lovely support. I can’t wait to play live again.
Thanks for that Sarah! But wait! That’s not the end for as well as gracing us with their words, Richard has gone and put together a special mixtape for Reykjavik Sex Farm for your listening pleasure. This is what he tell us about the mix itself….
“The mix contains songs from B£AMS and Sebastian Palomar, who will both be performing at Kit Club 3 on Sept 7. B£AMS will also form half of Kit Rec 002, a vinyl split with mysterious doctor / sonic explorer TESLA (also featured on the mix).”
If you this mix to your liking, then you can download an mp3 copy HERE. For more information about upcoming releases from The Nags Head, B£AMS, and TESLA, or to read interviews and features, or to hear more mixes and broadcasts on NTS, then head on over to kitrecords.com
Dur Dur Band – Intro
Vicki Sue Robinson – Turn the Beat Around
John Holt – Ali Baba
B£AMS – Peep East
The Nag’s Head – Jumbo Mixed Grill
TESLA – She’s Deep Seated / Luxsic
Sebastian Palomar – Benefits Escapological
Orange Juice – Rip it Up
The Honeycombs – Have I the Right
Unknown – Glass Bowl Music
Moondog – Pastoral
Unknown- If You Want to Sing Out
Kate Bush – This Woman’s Work
Well after nearly 2 weeks away, it’s time to scrape the rust off the valves, chase out the rats from the dark crannies and fire up the generators to get this blog running again.
There will be a post or two in the coming week about the old exploits in the big smoke, plus a possible semi-interview or two. But until then, here are some links/mixes/titbits that should interest you….
– An interview with our delightful friend KEMPER NORTON in the Quietus. It’s really good to see him getting some well proper attention for the music he does. Loki (AKA Saxon Roach) offers some extra insight into the life of Kemper here.
– BIG NEWS from our portal masters in Brighton, THE OUTER CHURCH. Double album compilation as well as four big ass nights to celebrate the release in August. Go over there and check out the news.
– A really interesting old school techstep mix over at SONIC RAMPAGE. Contains all the greats from the likes of Ruffige Kru, Dillinja, and Source Direct!.
– An even more interesting/mysterious mix over at READYMADE RECORDS, Titled “Irazu – Jealous God 01” it’s available to stream/download for free, and it’s chockka with tracks from Tangerine Dream to suicide to British Murder Boys. On further inspection, it turn out that it’s by none other than those dark lords REGIS and SILENT SERVANT! Whoo!! Go here to check it out before they shut it down!
– Finally… just before I went on holiday, I received a message from local friend Sævar Markus about some new music on the horizon. Like me Sævar is a bit of the fan of the uncanny parallel life forces that exist in society today. But while I’m more into the symbiosis of urban and rural electronica, Sævar has a
thing obsession for true pastoral folk, ’60s psychedelic pop, and spooky film/TV from the last 50 years. A true Hauntoloigist, there is no way he was born in Iceland!
Anyhoo, this release is from an outfit who call themselves CHILDREN OF ALICE. closer inspection reveal themselves to be none other than Broadcast’s James Cargill and former member Roj, as well as Ghost Box impresario Julian house!.
The release (on Bandcamp) is also seemingly part of a wider, even more enigmatic, project called Folklore Tapes.Concrete info on the track, as well as the tape release it’s supposed to be part of, is rather hard to come by, but from those who are really into the transmission from the likes of The Focus group, and later era Broadcast, then this is right up your street.