I went to my “To Listen To” shelf on Sunday to pull out something to spin and write about for the blog, only to be greeted with noting more than a Lucky Records hat staring at me from the cube and not a record to be seen. This was the first time in a long time that I didn’t have a backlog of vinyl. It actually confused me for a moment. Huh. I’ve got some stuff on order and am anxiously awaiting the new releases by Fufanu and Singapore Sling, but until those arrive I may need to root around on my shelves for stuff that somehow escaped the blog’s gaze.
I started by going through my shelves of Icelandic releases (♠), and the first one I came across that hadn’t been featured on Life in the Vinyl Lane before was the one and only release from the band Menn, 1986s Reisn. I actually mentioned it in an October 2012 post, noting that it was one of the records I’d picked up while at Airwaves, but either I never listened to it or wasn’t intrigued enough to write about it.
I did some research into Menn but came up mostly blank. The band appears to have consisted of Valdimar Flygenring and Ágúst Karlsson. Karlsson had played guitar on Með Nöktum‘s release Skemmtun the year prior to Reisn, but otherwise the trail is moderately cold – it looks like both have done some other work, but it was hard for me to clearly connect the dots. Even Dr. Gunni’s seminal history of Icelandic music Stuð vors lands only mentions Menn in passing, so I’m kind of in the dark.
Musically Reisn is a bit all over the place. It’s “rock” in the broadest sense, with a touch of rockabilly and some 80s style flourishes. The most intriguing (and excellent) piece is the side A closer, “Kona,” a song that utilizes elements of the theme songs to a pair of spies/private eyes, James Bond and Peter Gunn, adding in some audio samples for good measure. It’s a significant departure from the first three songs on side A and ushers in a more experimental vibe that carriers over to the B side. “Maðurinn” could be a lost Þeyr track, with crazy bird chirping acting as one of the instruments, while the narrator on the closing track “Snigill” gives things a sort of dystopian sci-fi feel (♣).
A handful of copies of Reisn sold on Discogs between 2010 and 2013, all in the $40-50 range. It looks to be legitimately scarce, and I’m not sure if it ever came out on CD. I couldn’t find any of the songs posted online, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it – Reisn feels like something from earlier in the 1980s during the more avant garde period when new wave almost took a bizarro left turn into icy German techno weirdness. The last five tracks are outstanding, so if you can find it, get it.
(♠) Most of my records are organized by genre, with separate sections for 7″, 10″, and 12″ singles as well. The one exception to this is that all albums recorded by Icelandic bands and anything recorded live in Iceland is in its own, separate set of shelves, regardless of genre. Because, well, I’m crazy.
(♣) Of course, he’s speaking in Icelandic, so he could just be reading his grocery list for all I know.