Monday, September 14, 2009

Iceland's folktronica darlings múm Sunday 10/25 at the Iron Horse

Iceland's múm are pioneers of “folktronica,” creating some of the most unique and pleasing computerized electronic music of our time. Originally a duo, they have evolved into a collective of musicians. The band mixes musical elements, judiciously combining tape decks, effects, laptops, toy microphones, various instruments, old found recordings, and vocals, with their own recordings, contributions from friends, gypsy folk music, and other ephemera.

Mum’s celebrated debut album Yesterday was Dramatic - Today is OK received glowing press and widespread praise. With the release of three more albums and extensive touring, the band is now decidedly on the musical map with their Icelandic peers Sigur Ros and Bjork but their ever-growing following extends from their native Iceland throughout the world.

In their spare time, the band has pursued projects that stretch the boundaries of your typical pop band activity. They composed their own soundtrack for the classic 1925 silent Sergei Eisenstein film, ‘Battleship Potemkin,’ as well as composing for theater, most notably two radio theater plays (one of which won the Nordic Radio-theater prize). In 2005 they were invited to Amsterdam by the Holland Festival to collaborate with the National Dutch Chamber Orchestra to create a performance piece based around various compositions of the late avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis for one of the centre piece shows at the festival.

In recent years they have returned to making records and recently finished recording their fifth studio album, Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know, which came out in August of 2009. This album reveals a soft, almost restrained collection of tracks, perhaps making up in mellifluous calm what it lacks - sometimes - in the fire and dazzle that characterized much of 2007's Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy.

Most of múm's albums have a central concept that unifies the songs and in this case it seems to be water. From pondering the likelihood of romance between a fish and a seashell, to the underwater sounds running through tracks like the excellent Sing Along, to numerous references in lyrics and song titles like A River Don't Stop To Breathe," a tidal ebb and flow pervades the whole album with the peaceful, beautiful sound they are known for.

Múm has changed over time, but still managed to stay consistent with their amazing sound techniques, beautifully haunting music and vocals, and undeniable skill and appeal which has solidified their place at the top of the electronic folk scene for years.

-Caroline Bastarache

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