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Album Reviews: The Reykjavik Grapevine: Buspin Jieber, ‘We Came As we Left’

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A while back I reviewed Buspin Jieber’s We Came As We Left, the latest release from Icelandic electronic label Raftonar for the Grapevine. Go and read here.

It was OK. Some really excellent production touches, but as an exercise in retrofuturism/memory as inspiration it wasn’t that much of an immersive experience.

But take a listen for yourself and see what you think.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in music

 

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The Quietus: Album Reviews: Shiny darkly, ‘little Earth’

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I recently reviewed Little Earth, the debut album from SHINY DARKLY for The Quietus. You can read it here.

Interesting album. heavily signposts its influences. Is very much cool sexy goth for 21 Century – not in that they are Joy Division (As one music writer noted in their press release), but more of a cool Clash Magazine photo shoot way. Darkness as pure surface sheen, gothic transgression as affected pose.

And yet i did find myself enjoying the album in a few places. Might whip it out at a few goth parties! If anything it made me fish out my old cop of Primary Colours by the Horrors. Forgot how good that album was…

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2015 in <

 

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Album Reviews: The Quietus: Jon Brooks, ‘Walberswick’

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Second quick fire post of the day – a review of Jon Brooks’ stunning ambient effort Walberswick for The Quietus is now available to read.

i find myself delving more and more into the nature of music and topography/memory. I haven’t been to the coast of Suffolk (my brother’s Partner/Babymama Lis actually mentioned after this was posted that she and my niece went to Walberswick a couple of months ago to go crabbing), but the fact that the music came across as very evocative of the place from what I had seen in my research on the area (Suffolk wildlife trust brochures, documentaries on WG Sebald and Sizewell B nuclear power station down the road, plus re-reading Mark Fisher’s Ghosts Of My Life book). As i mention in the review, it’s a soundtrack to a very peculiar hinterland in the British landscape.

This is something that may need a little piece written about in the next few weeks. Music that evokes a sense of time and place, even if it isn’t necessarily your time or your place. This is going into esoteric/ritual music territory again….

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2015 in music

 

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Album Reviews: Reykjavik Grapevine: Pink Street Boys, ‘Hits #1′

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It’s going to be a bit of a busy day, so a couple of quick fire posts from me.

My review of Hits #1 from those Icelandic filthbag rockers PINK STREET BOYS, is now uploaded and available to read on the Grapevine website.

Effectively if Singapore Sling are the Velvet Underground/Skag, then they are Iggy and The Stooges/Speed. With more shouting. and Chlamydia. And Monotown are the Eagles/Herpes.

Their barrel-chested lead singer Axel Björnsson is a hoot! I actually had to throw him out of Bakkus on my first shift as a doorman there. Imagine dropping a bag of broken spanners into a snowdrift. Guy came back and apologised for his behaviour the following week. Very few people actually do that. Nice bloke.

Also a shoutout to Sindri Eldon whose description of Bubbi Morthens I wholeheartedly stole for this review, because i could not have described him better myself.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2015 in music

 

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Reykjavik Grapevine: Album Reviews: Misþyrming and Ivar Páll Jónsson

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Even though it’s been a while, there are a couple of review salvos that were fired off to Castle Greyskull aka Grapevine towers. First up is Söngvar elds og óreiðu by Misþyrming, some truly gnarly black metal that turned turned this reviewer into the living embodiment of the Nihilist Arbys twitter account (“oh no,” said the intrepid reviewer on his first listen. “what if life really was just an accident and that we all die alone in the black eternity of nothing?”) but some good production and pitiless nihilism in intent. I really did like it… a lot.

the same couldn’t be said for Revolution…..blah. blah by Ivar Páll Jónsson. Really dull, piss poor indie-rawk, that peddles an almost moronically simplistic use of peace, love and freedom for a musical plot. notice how they highlight the “Love” in Revolution ala russel Brand. Says it all really. and no i didn’t like this one.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in music

 

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Album Reviews: Reykjavik Grapevine: Subminimal – “Sinian”

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I did a review of the latest album from Icelandic DnB producer SUBMINIMAL over at the Rvk GV.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in music

 

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Reykjavik Grapevine: Album Reviews: Adda and Atónal Blús

A few albums reviews were posted in The Grapevine online this week after being published in the paper. though i’d put them up on here for your reading pleasure….

ADDA: My Brain EP (2014)

‘My Brain,’ the crowdsourced debut EP from singer/songwriter Adda (AKA Arnþrúður Ingólfsdóttir), is a wonderfully austere, haunting body of folk songs. Playing fingerpicked acoustic guitar, Adda sings a lot about her turbulent mind (referring to her brain as a third person entity), as if she were in a passionate relationship with a partner. With all the highs and lows it entails, the intensity and emotional gravity of such feelings reverberate in Adda’s voice (with accompaniment from her sister Sunna). The rising, sustained two-note harmonies on “Taking Off,” for example, set your arm hairs on edge.

Adda has in the past referred to Joni Mitchell as a big influence and Jewel songs such as “Pieces Of You” and “Little Sister” could sit perfectly well alongside this EP. But while those artists have a shiny Americana gloss to them, ‘My Brain’ has a much stronger, rustic folk dynamic, as if it’s been opened up to the changeable elements of Northern European climes. “Waking Up,” with the reedy flute accompaniment of Georgia Browne, is a dew-laden, pastoral sunrise of a song while “I Will Not Forget,” a survivor’s letter of thanks to family and friends, is definitely the best track on the EP. The undulating meter of the guitar accompanied by waves of long drawn cello drones that drift in and out of focus have a mesmeric spectral quality, all windswept cliffs and remote peninsulas.

If there’s one duff moment in ‘My Brain,’ then it’s “Queer Sweetheart” with its finger-clicking jazz-blues melody, which alas does not do anything for me. But even here, decidedly acidic witty lines such as “You might even catch me with a queer porn flick/But don’t tell my country about it though/Cos there I’m a radical feminist oh-oh/And they don’t watch any kind of porn,” made me spit my morning tea out, going “Damn! You went there!”

‘My Brain’ is an accomplished debut EP that’s highly intimate, even confessional, but never comes across as self-obsessed. There is a quiet determination that resides at the centre of the music. The production also shows that when it comes to creating an impact with her song writing, she definitely gets what folk is all about.

Atónal Blús: Höfuðsynd

It should be noted that when you first play ‘Höfuðsynd,’ the debut album from new band Atónal Blús, you quickly realise that despite the cool name, that they’re not really Arnold Schoenberg does John Lee Hooker. But that’s not to dispute that there’s some avant-garde tinkering at play here. The opening track, “Atónal Blús,” is a murky, buzzing, discoloured breakdown of a song that comes closest to the atonal aesthetic implied of the band’s name.

From there it settles down into a spot-welded blend of heaving psych-inflected rock and interesting rhythmic patterns that could be seen as a little bit (whisper it) “proggy.” The rhythm workings shouldn’t come as a surprise. The band’s main instigator, Gestur Guðnason, was a member of Icelandic Balkan beats band Stórsveit Nix Noltes, and a track like “Balkan Boogie” is pretty much a fuzzed up variation on the SNN template, although it’s definitely more subtly employed on tracks such as “Oxygen Kills.” The rock components themselves are manfully done although fairly standard in their structure and occasionally border on cliché (freight train sounds made with the harmonica and acoustic jams with bongos).

All in all, ‘Höfuðsynd’ is a rather enjoyable listen. The drums/bass partnership have been brought right to the front of the mix, giving what could have been an average rock song like “Sexy Slave” some overloading, thumping menace (Jesus, those floor toms!). There are also several moments, such as when the vocals, harmonica and lead guitar combine on “Lítið ljón,” where there’s a looseness that borders on the unstable, giving it a definite edge in comparison to the stiff, crushing orthodoxy of much of Iceland’s lauded “real rock” music. Definitely worth a spin for rock heads looking for a little more danger in their music.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2014 in Iceland, music

 

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