Tuesday, November 21, 2006

MÚM: The Peel Session (Fat-Cat Records)

MÚM
The Peel Session
CDFAT057 / 12FAT057
Fat-Cat Records 2006
04 Tracks. 21mins14secs




Buy it: CD
Múm | Fat-Cat Records

Icelandic purveyors of fine dream soundtracks Múm fill the gap between their last record, released two years ago, and their next opus, due out next year, with the publication of their sole Peel Session, recorded at the world famous BBC Maida Vale studios back in 2002 following the release of their debut album, Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK. The session captures the band as they begin to blur the boundaries between their electronic roots and the more delicate acoustic and textural sound they have showcased in recent years. Here, while they still largely rely on electronics, as the opening sequence of Scratched Bicycle/Smell Memory attests, Múm dress their songs in slightly more contrasted tones.

Múm have developed a stage persona which has progressively been infiltrating their records, and this early testament clearly documents how the band’s sound lends itself perfectly to the live environment. The melodies retain the fresh envelop of the original versions yet the arrangements appear fuller and more ethereal, while the voices of twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir take on a much more vaporous and dreamy turn on Now There Is That Fear Again. As they combine electronic and acoustic instrumentation into tight soundscapes, Múm draw a series of sonic arabesques which contrast greatly with the more subdued originals. On the opening track, which pertinently brings two songs into one, Múm layer slices of glitches and noises over frenetic interferences and beats, yet the main melody floats well above, and when liberated from the cloud of ambient hums and buzzes, develops into a wonderfully strolling piece. Awake On A Train is a more straightforward and pastoral installment, with gentle vocals set against sharp electronics while an accordion traces a series of melodic themes and takes this track in a variety of directions.

Now There Is That Fear Again is the most elaborate track on here, with multiple layers of accordion dripping over the sisters’ vocals, guitars and live drums to form a vivid organic piece. The song’s gentle opening moments reveal a rich backdrop which flourishes further as the track progresses and more layers are applied. The Ballad Of The Broken String finds the band in more subdued and reflective mood and brings this all too short Peel session to a beautiful close.

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