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101 Reykjavik -- Life In Iceland
101 Reykjavik -- Life In Iceland

Mum -- Finally We Are No One
101 Mum -- Finally We Are No One

Sigur Ros -- Takk
Sigur Ros -- Takk...

FINDING A GOOD NAME for something -- or someone -- is always the hardest thing. To sum up the spirit of a work of art with a short name takes real skill, and I always admire those who are able to do it. Recently I purchased a copy of the CD "Finally We Are No One", by Múm -- my first introduction to the Icelandic band. Within just a short time of listening I was overwhelmed by the strangest feeling (admittedly I had drunk a particularly strong batch of ginseng juice from the neighbourhood Korean shop, and was under its smart drug spell.) But anyway, the feeling was real, and in an abstract, intuitive way, I could understand what this rather strange title actually means. Finally We Are No One. Finally, after so much trying, we can annihilate ourselves -- we can annihilate the ego -- in a burst of Zenlike joy. The ecstasy of dissolving oneself. That is what this CD is about. Yoda or Buddha might have said that deep down, "we are all one", but Múm take things even further, state things even truer -- in truth we are not even "one", we are no one. And this is a magnificent realisation to reach -- the state the Japanese call "satori".

According to Mark Richard-san's review at pitchfork media, Múm's sound lacks a "sense of struggle". "They're almost too good at making simple, pretty music at this point, and the tracks content to pursue these qualities alone come across as fluffy. With the digital aspect of the sound played down in favor of uncomplicated acoustic melodies, Múm seems just a bit less substantial," he concludes. But I think Richard-san is missing something -- there is a sense of struggle in this work, it is just a kind of struggle he doesn't understand. There is a tension here, but is the tension of disappearance, dissolution -- the heroic journey towards self-annullment. You can hear it in the song "Green Grass of Tunnel" , in which the narrator rises up through the ground towards what? -- Nirvana no doubt! The direction of this album is always up. The final song, for instance, is called "The Land Between Solar Systems" -- and perhaps at this stage in the CD Múm have attained escape velocity, full release, and are free to wander the empty domains of space. The entire album of "Fianlly We Are No One" is about the tension of escape, fighting the forces of gravity. You can feel the power of gravity as a tangible force in the song "Don't Be Afraid, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed" -- it manifests in the choppiness of the beats, the interference of physical imperfection into the perfection of the spiritual world. As if to confirm my insight, the cover of the CD features a drawing of a rocket taking flight. I was right! This is a lift-off album and the destination is oblivion itself -- the heart of light at the heart of our dark universe.

This is what they said at musicOHM.com: "Atmospherically, Mum's second album, Finally We Are No One, bears striking similarities to Bjork's latest album Vespertine. It's full of peculiar little drum patterns and glocks, intricate programming and wonderful, fragile, music box melodies. It was written in a lighthouse in north-western Iceland (where else) and recorded in Sigur Ros' Reykjavik studios.

"The four-piece, based loosely in Reykjavik and Berlin, consists of two electronics whizzkids, Gunnar Orn Tynes and Orvar Poreyjarson Smarason, and two classically-trained sisters, Kristin Anna and Gyda Valtysdottir, who achieved a particular fame by appearing on the cover of Belle and Sebastian's Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant.

"Valgeir Sigurdsson, who also worked on Vespertine, is on hand with his engineering skills to the fore on this record. But where Vespertine was utterly dominated by the character of Bjork, this album is almost an exercise in what Vespertine would sound like if you removed her from it. The electronic element is to the fore, and where analogue instruments do appear, they are used sparingly."

Maybe it is just me, but there seems to be an Icelandic sound. What is the Icelandic sound? Writing about music is like dancing about architecture -- it is hard to put it into words. But it just seems to me, the more I listen to Icelandic music, the more I hear the same old familiar refrains. Mournful accordians playing harbourside dirges -- that seems to be a typical feature of Icelandic music. It's like you can't make an album in Iceland without an accordian in there somewhere (and there are plenty on "Finally We Are No One", even though Múm are technically an elctronic band.) To me, the accordian and the horn and the violin and the cold synthe and the high-pitched vocalist are the epitomes of the Icelandic sound, they are what it is all about. It is a sound that I love, and I fully recommend it to others. But then again, my judgment is impaired, because I am an Iceland fanatic. I am sorry about that. But if you are interested, you should give this album, a try.



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Iceland Music Resources

Bad Taste Records

Bad Taste Records

Rokk Islensk Tonlist

Rokk Islensk Tonlist

Jon MP3

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Hugi Islensk Tonlist


Ulpa Home Page

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Greenland Music Resources

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