MÚM: Early Birds (Morr Music)


Posted on Jun 29th 2012 01:04 am

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Múm: Early Birds

Early Birds: (A Compilation Of Early Recordings, Rare Music And Forgotten Songs From 1998-2000 Or Thereabouts)
Morr Music 2012
15 Tracks. 72mins39secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Icelandic electronic folksters múm have been pretty quiet since the release of their last album, Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know (2009) and the end of the tour that followed a year later. Despite the recent announcement that the band has been working on the score for Jack & Diane, a film due out later on in the year, which is said to feature a collaboration bwtween the Icelandic formation and Kylie Minogue, the appearance of a compilation, published on Morr Music, the band’s original label, to which they returned with Sing Along… can easily be taken as a stop gap between projects. This said, Early Birds collects a number of rare and previously unpublished material recorded between 1998 and 2001, at a time when the band consisted essentially of Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason.

Over the years, múm have released music on Morr, TNT Entertainment and Fat-Cat, and have morphed from a primarily electronic duo in the early days to a quartet with the addition of twin sisters Gyða and Kristin Anna Valtýsdóttir and a collective of musicians and singers for Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy (2007)  and Sing Along… (2009), following the successive departures of the Valtýsdóttir sisters. This regular influx of personnel has lead the band towards progressively more acoustic territories, but Early Birds showcases Tynes and Smárason’s original electronic sound which eventually developed into múm’s stellar debut, Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK in 2001.

Not quite as polished as Yesterday…, yet bearing all the hallmarks of its soft focussed, folk-tinted dreamy electronica, the tracks on Early Birds, some demos, others taken from long unavailable EPs, show the-then duo as they experimented with ideas to create playful little sonic collages of field recordings, clunky percussions and off-beat electronics, which have since become familiar to fans of the band. The band’s fine mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentations, especially harmonica and accordion, is already clearly identifiable here, and even stretch to a rowdy electric guitar on the second version of Bak Þitt Er Sem Rennibraut.

At times, the hesitant, naive or chaotic nature of some of these pieces (Glerbrot, Hvernig Á Að Særa Vini Sína, Insert Coin, Náttúrúbúrú) is rather touching, but elsewhere, the clarity with which Tynes and Smárason express their ideas and apply their vision is quite impressive. Opening pieces Bak Þitt Er Sem Rennibraut and Póst Póstmaður contain pretty much all the ingredients of a classic múm track (slightly warped field recordings, child-like sounds and melodies, lively, unruly, yet delicate beat), with an additional touch of melancholy on Loksins Erum Við Engin, 0,000Orð or Volkspark Friedrichshain, something which has been very much at the heart of the band’s song-based records.

It was also during these early years that the Valtýsdóttir twins joined Tynes and Smárason, and while their vocal inputs are, very much like was the case on Yesterday…, somewhat rare, and never quite hint at the magical pop of Finally We Are No One or Summer Make Good, but múm’s taste for delicate melodies is only emphasised by the sisters’ contribution to Hvernig Á Að Særa Vini Sína or Loksins Erum Við Engin for instance.

Early Birds concludes with the rather stunning ten-minute long Enginn Vildi Hlusta Á Fiðlunginn, Því Strengir Hans Vóru Slitnir, a stripped down, reflective piece which revolves essentially around a solitary accordion and a handful of field recordings, with a ghostly hummed part coming into focus towards the half way mark.

múm have progressed from refined electronica alchemists to oblique folk popsters, and their personnel has grown into a broad collective, since the release of their debut mini album almost twelve years ago, but their music ethic has remained fairly consistent throughout, merely being reinterpreted to accommodate these many changes. Early Birds therefore serves as a reminder of where múm as a formation, and Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason as musician, have come from. Although at times slightly rough around the edges, this album will sit proudly next to the band’s early releases and should be appreciated not as a stop gap between records but as a wonderful insight into the band’s genesis.


Múm | Morr Music
Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

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