|múm — Smilewound (2013)|
múm — Smilewound
→ Icelandic experimentalists who blend lush arrangements with icy effects and occasional female vocals.
Founded: September 9th, 1997
Album release: September 17, 2013
Record Label: Morr Music
01 Toothwheels 4:47
02 Underwater Snow 4:09
03 When Girls Collide 5:00
04 Slow Down 4:48
05 Eternity is the Wait Between Breaths 3:32
06 Candlestick 5:07
07 One Smile 4:22
08 The Colorful Stabwound 3:41
09 Sweet Impressions 3:54
10 Time To Scream and Shout 5:06
11 Whistle feat: Kylie Minogue 6:08
♦ Gunnar Örn Tynes
♦ Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason
♦ Ólöf Arnalds
♦ Eiríkur Orri Olafsson
♦ Hildur Guðnadóttir
♦ Sigurlaug Gisladottir
♦ Samuli Kosminen
♦ Róbert Sturla Reynisson
By Amanda Farah; August 29th 07:57, 2013; Score: 7/10
♦ The constantly rotating membership of múm has made it difficult for fans to anticipate what a múm record should sound like. On 2009’s Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know, it became apparent that the band’s current interest lay more in weirdo pop music than the abstract sound experiments of their early albums.
♦ Smilewound, their sixth studio album, reinforces that more traditional pop structures surely here to stay, but you still couldn’t call them a pop band. Not even featuring Kylie Minogue on a song can turn them into a pop band (see last year’s ‘Whistle’ as evidence; it’s the bonus track on Smilewound).
♦ The glitchy rhythm of ‘Candlestick’, for example, balances out a warm, smooth chorus about wanting to bash someone over the head.
♦ Even if more conventional song elements like choruses and clearly audible vocals have found their way into múm’s work, they are still far from predictable. For starters, who would have anticipated the return of founding member Gyða, last seen on their debut, Yesterday Was Dramatic — Today Is OK? Her vocals (which closely resemble those of her twin sister, former lead vocalist Kristin Anna/Kria Brekkan) feature on several songs, whereas male vocals are noticeably absent on the whole. But the return of a founding member hasn’t signaled the return of what the band was ten years ago.
♦ There are shades their more atmospheric, freeform songs. Instrumental ‘Eternity Is The Wait Between Breaths’ could easily fit into their back catalogue, while the presence of warped sounding strings across the album is an excellent example of the textures the band has always been capable of creating. And the breathy, brief vocals of ‘One Smile’ is a beautiful example of using a voice as an instrument.
♦ múm have always been a challenging listen, and on the heels of last year’s compilation, Early Birds it seems the challenge might be accepting something more structured. Smilewound requires something of an adjustment of expectations. But don’t get too comfortable; they’ll undoubtedly throw us for a loop with their next album.
Artist Biography by Andy Kellman
♦♣ Yesterday Was Dramatic — Today Is OK Iceland pop experimentalists Múm were formed by Gunnar Örn Tynes, Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason, and classically trained twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir. Formed in 1997, the group met while working on a children's play. Smárason found his perception of music changed through hearing Aphex Twin and decided that he would abandon the guitar-based concepts of his prior bands. This was fine and dandy with his bandmates. Following a number of singles and remixes, the full-length Yesterday Was Dramatic — Today Is OK was released in 2000 through TMT/Thule in Iceland and Tugboat in the U.K. Each of the band's four members was in their late teens when the record was released, hailed for its playful and imaginative use of all things musical and not so musical. 2001 saw the release of Please Smile My Noise Bleed on Morr Music, a compilation of remixes from the likes of isan and Arovane. A second full-length, Finally We Are No One, was released the following year on Fat Cat. Gyða left the band to focus on her studies before Múm's third album, Summer Make Good, arrived in spring 2004; the band rounded out the year with the Dusk Log EP. The next two years found Múm on the road. In 2005, the group collaborated with the National Dutch Chamber Orchestra at Amsterdam's Holland Festival on a piece inspired by the works of composer Iannis Xenakis. Múm returned to the studio the following year, and in the interim released a live album, The Peel Session, which was originally recorded in 2002 by the BBC. For 2007's Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, the band was down to founding members Tynes and Smárason, who enlisted the help of guitarist/vocalist/violinist Ólöf Arnalds, trumpet/keyboard player Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson, vocalist/cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir, percussionist Samuli Kosminen, and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mr. Silla. The group recorded their fifth album, 2009's Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know, in Finland and Estonia as well as their native Iceland. Fans had to wait four more years for another new studio album from the band, although they weren't entirely bereft of new product, as a Christmas EP, Gleðileg Jól, was released in 2011, and a compilation of early tracks in 2012 entitled Early Birds. Early in 2013, a track entitled "Whistle" emerged — a surprise collaboration with none other than Kylie Minogue. Later that year, Múm announced they would be releasing their sixth album, Smilewound, in September. The album would include the Kylie track and the single "Toothwheels", and marked the return to the group of Gyða Valtýsdóttir for the first time in ten years.
♦♣ You don't need to be freud to regard teeth as a delicate issue - they can make joy look joyous and pain look painful, and on the cover of the new múm album they do both at the same time.
♦♣ As "yesterday was dramatic - today is okay" (2001), "finally we are no one" (2002) and "sing along to songs you don't know" (2009) "smilewound" is another example of the band's art of juxtaposing two conflicting meanings and taking advantage of the energy created through the tension between both. sparser in sound than many of its predecessors, "smilewound" is an airy, relaxed record. the múm-core-duo of örvar smárason and gunni tynes doesn't make you laugh out loud (except maybe for the quirky vintage arcade-sound-start of "when girls collide"), but it will make you smile often - despite the heavenly voices singing about violence in one form or another in most songs. musically, múm's capability to build playful electronic sound-ornaments around simple melodies is in full bloom. and these days they know that trimming the ornamentation can strengthen the melody. take "the colorful stabwound": an aguish drum'n'bass piece and"smilewound" gets close to a straight pop-song. even that isn't very close, but it combines its rhythmic strength with a simple yet effective piano-line and the soothing lushness of a female voice to something compelling that follows you like the smell of a delicate eau de toilette. or "candlestick" which started out as a little ditty strummed on an acoustic guitar many years ago and has grown into this bouncy piece of synth-pop that changes its musical colours every couple of beats until you feel comfortably dizzy. perfect pop in very fancy clothes. no wonder that antipodean pop-princess kylie minogue wanted to collaborate with múm on the "whistle", the main song in 2012-movie "jack & diane". recorded in, among other places, the band's practice-space, an old baltic farmhouse and on the kitchen-table after dinner, the album was produced by múm themselves. and being the revolving collective they are, it comes as no surprise that we see the return of former member gyda valtýsdóttir. defining satellites as part of the core fits nicely with the band's penchant for ambivalence — in fact that's part of the album's charm. (http://www.resident-music.com/)
• Yesterday Was Dramatic — Today Is OK (TMT, 2000; reissue Morr Music, 2005)
• Finally We Are No One (Fat Cat Records, 2002)
• Loksins erum við engin (Smekkleysa Records, 2002) — the Icelandic version of "Finally We Are No One"
• Summer Make Good (Fat Cat Records, 2004)
• Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy (Fat Cat Records, 2007)
• Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know (Morr Music, 2009)
• Smilewound (Morr Music, 2013)
• Blái Hnötturinn (2001) — Soundtrack
• Motorlab No. 2 (2001) — 3 tracks contributed to compilation album by Kitchen Motors
• Please Smile My Noise Bleed (Morr Music, 2001) — 3 New Tracks + Remixes:
• Remixed (TMT, 2001) — Versions of Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is Ok
• Fálkar (Smekkleysa Records, 2002) — contributed "Grasi Vaxin Göng"
• Wicker Park (soundtrack) (Lakeshore Records, 2004) — contributed "We Have a Map of the Piano"
• Screaming Masterpiece (2005) — Appeared in the documentary with the video for "Green Grass of Tunnel" and contributed the same song to the soundtrack.
• Friends of the Random Summer (2005) — 3 CD, Unofficial Release.
• Kitchen Motors Family Album/Fjölskyldualbúm Tilraunaeldhússins (Spring 2006) — contributed "Asleep in a Hiding Place"
• Early Birds (Morr Music, June 2012) — 15 rares, lost and unreleased tracks.
• The Ballað of the Broken Birdie Records (TMT, 2000)
• Dusk Log (Fat Cat Records, 2004)
• The Peel Session (Fat Cat Records, 2006) (Maida Vale 4 Studio 2002)
• Gleðileg Jól (A Number Of Small Things, 2011)
• Green Grass of Tunnel (Fat Cat Records, 2002)
• Nightly Cares (Fat Cat Records, 2004)
• They Made Frogs Smoke 'til They Exploded (Fat Cat Records, 2007)
• Marmalade Fires (Fat Cat Records, 2007)
• Prophecies and Reversed Memories (Morr Music, 2009)
• "Whistle" (Parlophone, 2013)
• Toothwheels (Morr Music, 2013)
© múm at the Aldrei fór ég suður festival in Ísafjörður, April 2009/Author: Greg Neate
|múm — Smilewound (2013)|