by SashaS

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  More on: Múm

Dusk Log
  Album Review - 9-9-2004
Summer Make Good
  Album Review - 16-4-2004
Múm: sound of beauty speaks for itself
Incandescent insights
Múm: fury before a long hush

Once upon a time music was socially, politically, ideologically aware but not environmentally friendly; now it needs to be all of the above but is nought more than entertainment. Ideal of if being a rebellious artform is replaced by recycled vibrations. And yet, there are still weavers of dreams and magic out there… Múm is an Icelandic outfit making music that feels like visual contents captured as sonic variations… It is often - like odes to nature.

Last April they released ‘Summer Make Good’, followed by a tour and last month’s EP ‘Dusk Log’. We caught up with Gunnar Örn Tynes in Prague where he popped in to collect Örvar óreyjarson Smárason for a wedding engagement in Finland[!?]; no, their luck hasn’t run out, they are doing a favour to their touring drummer who is getting married in Helsinki. Following this date, there probably will not be any Múm music for a year, but perhaps there is going to be a substitute - an Örn Tynes’s solo album.

Alas, the wedding of the band’s drummer, where the original foursome performed for one more time, would be all for a while as the members settle in four different places: Gunnar is back to Reykjavik (after a spell in Berlin), Örvar is in Prague, twin sisters are apart, Kristín Anna in the South of France and Gyda Valtysdóttir is studying cello in Moscow.

“I think it can be very true,” Gunni deliberates on geography influencing their creativity, “and we have been travelling around trying to make different music, to play with different people. I don’t know if there is any rational explanation to it because you simply feel differently in different places without knowing why. We seek environment to inspire us differently.”

And it obviously does, allowing them to make beautiful music that is an antidote to the catastrophe the humanity has managed to inflict all around.

“Yes, I think we have because the title of our last EP is a subtle, rhetorical one, it is like… A lot of people would like to do something about the world situation but what can they do? They feel very isolated and we try to contribute by making something pretty, something thoughtful… No radical changes but you feel proud because of it.”

Telling imagery

Prior to forming Múm, Gunni started out playing old-skool hardcore on an Amiga; Örvar got interested in music when his parents bought their first computer; Kristin and Gyda started to play piano and cello at a tender age. The boys spotted the girls playing at a community centre, as part of a dodgy band doing Pixies cover versions, both girls were then 15 years old. And so the band was formed, and began their rapid rise.

All Icelandic bands tend to be different from each other, like there is a competition or, there is no place for plagiarists on such a small market/scene?

“That’s a great question,” Gunni pauses, “but I think a lot of things can be explained by us being a small nation. Because of that we have to be different and not copy someone else. It must also be influenced by the long nights and long days we have…”

Unfortunately it all may be changing because there is a local ‘Pop Idol’…

“Yes, there is,” Gunni sighs, “and it is very popular. What surprises me is how much of this commercial music is designed for very small kids. It is aimed at 8 to 15 year olds because the parents can’t say no and have to buy whatever the kids are into.”

Gunnar is working on a solo album that probably will not appeal to that age group which is not something that bothers him in the slightest.

“Solo album is something I’ve been working on for a few years and hope to release it early next year. The reason I’m doing is not due to not being able to do it within the band but I just thought to try something less serious and it is very eclectic… There is no particular direction but the limitation comes from me having played all the instruments. I now intend to invite some friends to add things on.”

“I’d want to finish the album before the end of the year but I have no label for it. I haven’t thought about it yet, I’m too stressed by trying to finish it.”

Floating vistas

Following a number of early collaborative projects, the group’s celebrated debut album ‘Yesterday was Dramatic, Today is OK’ (released on Thule Music in March 2000) garnered widespread praise, as did their following releases, the remixes of ‘the ballad of the broken birdie records’ (including mixes by Mu-Ziq), and a further remix project, ‘please smile my noise bleed’, released on the German Morr Music label in November 2001.

“Örvar is on one year course at a film school in Prague, he is very interested in film making. Kristín Anna is somewhere in the South of France, at a farm, and I don’t really know what her plans are; Gyda, the girl who plays the cello and quit the band years ago, is on the way to Russia to further her musical studies.”

“The idea for the last tour was to play a lot of dates and then take time off, about a year. After that period we may bring different things to the band and it will be very interesting to discover what new things we can bring to the kitchen and make a better soup. But we still do things together and just recently performed music for a radio show in Paris.”

Talking with Gunni one has impression that he is a very positive person…

“I’m very optimistic about most things and it is funny because Örvar is just the opposite and we balance each other. When I say I’m optimistic, good solutions are not going to be found during my lifetime. I believe in natural evolution but I’m also a fatalist and believe the things turn out the way they should.”

Múm EP ‘Dusk Log’ and album ‘Summer Make Good’ are available now on FatCat