Mum, Yesterday was Dramatic--Today is OK
I spent two months in Iceland back in 1984. That was before The Sugarcubes released their first record, so awareness of the "Icelandic Music Scene" didn't extend beyond Reyjkavik (or less--as I recall, the #1 song in Iceland the summer was Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"). Nowadays, Iceland is home to a number of internationally-known music acts, including (of course) Bjork, Gus Gus, and now Mum. Like ISAN, Autechre, and Arovane before them, Mum's debut release manages to take the hisses and glitches of electricity and transform them into something not merely memorable but beautiful. Many of the songs on this disk have familiar structure--a combination of soft melodies and hard rhythms. What makes this work different from other works which follow this structure is the way in which the rhythms, although "experimental" and "hard" noise, are nevertheless smooth rather than sharp. While too many IDM acts use hard rhythms to break out of and away from soft melodies, thereby nullifying the effect of the beauty of those melodies, the "noise" rhythms in this release are never overwhelming, blending into the soft atmosphere, rather than separating from it. Take "I'm 9 Today." It starts out with ISAN-like click rhythms and soft, furry synth melodies (even toy melodies), creating a very peaceful, yet "glitchy," atmosphere. The song goes forward--the rhythm stays the same, but the melody changes, first to a more traditional synth sound (think house melodies), then to a glockenspiel and a synth accordion duet. The song rises in volume as it progresses, before settling back down to where it began, a soft synth and a few well-placed clicks. The combination of these elements are heard throughout, making for a very memorable release.
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