Slugs – “Þorgeirsboli”

OK, this is obscure.  Perhaps obscure bordering on pretentious, like “hey look at this really cool obscure CD I came across that you’ve never heard of and probably will never find a copy of,” but I swear that’s not my intention.  At least not consciously.  If you make it all the way through this post you just might find that you can get a copy of your very own, while supplies last.

This isn’t a “I have this and you don’t” thing.  This is a “wow this is an amazing album” thing.

It all starts at Lucky Records in Reykjavik, when we were there for Airwaves in November.  Ingvar had a bunch of music put aside for me that included both things I’d asked him to hold as well as some stuff that he thought I might be interested in, both on vinyl and CD (and even a cassette).  One of the things that caught my eye was a white CD in a clear plastic heat-sealed pouch with just a small white sticker label on it.  What the hell?  Not even a jewel case or a sleeve?  A heat-sealed pouch?  “Slugs.  It’s punk.  It just came out.  You need to listen to this.”  Well, OK then.  If your record store guy knows what you like, it’s best to trust him.

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As you can see, I put this in a cheap jewel case after cutting it out of its pouch, though I kept the label sticker.

Released by Lady Boy Records, Þorgeirsboli was apparently recorded in 2010 but not released until this year, and limited to 100 copies (I have #13).  The first time I played it, it was a jarring experience.  What the hell is it?  Punk?  Post-Punk?  Post-Post-Punk?  I really don’t know.  I have a hard time pinning it down.  Usually when I play it, as soon it’s done I’m left scratching my head as I can’t seem to remember anything I just heard.  It’s a chimera.  A ghost.  It doesn’t have memorable riffs and chords… but I find myself coming back to it over and over and over again.  I burned a copy for my friend Matt, who’s a post-punk fan from back in the day, and he’s all about Þorgeirsboli.  Thank god, because I was worried that I was going crazy.

According to Lady Boy Records’ Facebook page:

Slugs drank a lot of beer and occasionally played shows and wrote songs
from 2006 to 2010. They represented the death of everything tasteful and
magical about punk rock, and most people are glad to be rid of them.
(Posted September 26, 2013)

Sounds about right.

That being said, this is unquestionably one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.

And I’ll be hard pressed to explain why.

Þorgeirsboli doesn’t meet any expectations you might have for it.  It crumples those expectations up into a ball and tosses them on the floor, only to come back days later when you can’t stop thinking about it, uncrumples them, then tears them up into tiny pieces.  And burns them.  And buries them in a hole in the backyard.  Until the dog digs them up.  The songs are short (six of the ten are under three minutes apiece) bursts of jarring energy, feeling more like a frankenstein mixing and matching of chords and rhythms from multiple songs pressed into one.  The singing howls and pleads and accuses.  Some of it is fast, but it’s not hardcore, though at least one song (“Þu + 1”) could certainly be considered post-hardcore – it’s the most punk song on the album for sure.  The opening track, “Gat Þetta,” is killer, sounding like a deranged, punked-out Japanese pop song that was recorded on 33 rpm but played on 45.  “Barnaperrinn” is another favorite, with a dark, fast, new wavish sound that degenerates at times into screaming before coming back to that new wave magic.  If you want heavy, check out “Nei.” with it’s alternately raspy and spacey vocals, and relentless, driving pace.  And I have no idea what the last song is all about, the nearly 19 minute “Þorgeirsboli,”which is four-and-a-half minutes of a song, followed by 15 minutes of random stuff that sounds like things recorded off TV or radio, some of it modulated, some of it not, and sometimes with ambient-like music playing over the vocal noise.  Bizarre, man.

I’m not sure if there is other stuff like this out there in the world that sounds like this… and if there is, I don’t know if I should be glad or frightened.  One band like Slugs might be more than enough, but either way I’m glad Þorgeirsboli finally saw the light of day three years after it was recorded, because it’s awesome.

Don’t take my word for it, though.  Head over to the Lady Boy Records website, listen to songs for free, and if you like it you can order your own copy of the CD (they appear to still be in stock) for just nine Euros.  You don’t have an excuse not to.

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