AMFJ / Auxpan – “AMFJ * Auxpan” Cassette (2013)

“I think this tape is trying to make me kill someone.”

That’s what my friend Derek sent me by IM while he was graciously burning this cassette onto CD for me.  Derek represented one of the last steps in a process that somehow involved me flying from home (Seattle) to a small island in the North Atlantic (Iceland) to see a music festival (Iceland Airwaves) during which I visited my favorite record store (Lucky Records) (which happens to be probably something crazy like 5,000 miles from my house) to buy some music and having a guy I know (Ingvar) flat out tell me, “Dude, you need to buy this tape.”  The fact that I no longer have a cassette player and haven’t owned one in probably the last 10 years (not entirely true – my old 2006 Audi had a cassette player – stock!) didn’t seem like a deal breaker to me because Ingvar knows his stuff.  So I packed it in my suitcase I came home (back to Seattle) with a tape I had no way of playing.  Hell, I don’t even know how much I paid for it.  Enter Derek, who had converted his collection of hip hop cassettes to CD and offered to burn this for me.  Awesome!  Until Derek remembered that his son broke, among other things, his tape player.  But our friend Ryan stepped up and loaned Derek a tape player so Derek could burn my Icelandic tape to CD and send me that instant message.

<whew>

I really have no idea how to describe this.  Is ambient industrial a genre?  Because if not I just made it one.  This cassette-only release came out on October 30 this year, a limited edition of 201 (not 200… 201).  Technically each band contributed two songs… though I’m not sure how you differentiate the songs from each other, other than by flipping the tape.  All in all it’s 26 minutes of some intriguing, if not odd, music.  When Derek told me he thought it was trying to get him to kill people I asked, “What, like Judas Priest’s Stained Class?”  He replied, “No man.  Like this sounds like the stuff they’d play in an 80s horror flick before someone got killed.”  Nice!

I didn’t come away feeling like I should kill anyone, though, which is a good thing.  Could be because I had two (or three) glasses of wine first.  I don’t know.  I’m not a doctor.  But it is interesting.  I’ll have to try to see one or both of these guys at Airwaves next year after a Thule or two.

Iceland Airwaves 2013 – Day 2 (“…and a cassette”)

For the first time during Airwaves 2013 I’m writing with most of my brain working – not hallucinating from lack of sleep on our travel day nor at 2:30 AM after a complete day of concerts.  So hopefully I’m more coherent, because if not I’ve got real problems.

We went over to Lucky Records today to pay for and pick up all the stuff that I’ve had on hold, and even I was surprised at the volume, which is what happens when you ask to have  a few things put aside, but spread out those requests over the course of weeks.  That being said, I was stoked about what I had waiting for me, both the stuff I picked out as well as a few nuggets Gestur and Ingvar put aside, like a super limited edition múm picture disc, a couple of 45s, some random CDs, and yes, my dear readers, even a cassette.  Let that last part sink in for a minute.  This wasn’t a vintage cassette like the Snarl II compilation I wrote about recently.  Oh no.  This is brand spanking new industrial insanity dual effort from Iceland’s own AMFJ and Auxpan, and I’m looking forward to checking it out… assuming, of course, I still have a tape player floating around in my garage somewhere.  Either that or I’ll have to sit in my wife’s car.

I have a stack of cool stuff to listen to when I get home, including new material from The Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band and Emilíana Torrini, plus used stuff by Björk, Purrkur Pillnikk, and some almost completely unknown Icelandic bands (well, at least unknown to anyone not from Iceland!).  As near as I can tell I got about 27 records and 21 CDs (and one cassette!) so far… and frankly I don’t have room for much more – though I still need to hit up the flea market on Saturday.  I can’t wait to get home and start listening!  I’m not as much looking forward to cleaning all these records and having to reorganize my shelves… but that’s the price you pay.

We weren’t too inspired by the off-venue program today, but we had one band we wanted to catch – the industrial duo known as Ghostigital.  Not too many bands can be as intense and weird as Ghostigital while still being awesome.  This marked the fifth time we’ve seen them at Airwaves and as usual they did not disappoint, this time playing a small stage on the top floor of Reykjavik’s opera house Harpa, with the setting sun coming in through the angular windows on two sides and a crowd who was ready to get after it.  And they brought it.  There were a couple of songs from their latest album, Division of Culture and Tourism, plus a few I didn’t recognize.  The small crowd (maybe 75 people?) was way into it and some people were seriously rocking out.  This moved solidly into second place in my personal list of best shows this year, behind only Legend.  We also caught part of Good Moon Deer’s set, some nice experimental electronic played by one guy on the controls and the other on the drums.

[BREAK…]

OK, while earlier I told you how amazing this post was going to be because I wasn’t sleep deprived… well… it’s now about 2 AM and we just got back from our second night of shows, so bear with me.

We spent most of the evening back at Harpa catching heavy metal and punk type shows.  Momentum opened with their brand of psych metal, though it wore on me a bit as there wasn’t a lot that differentiated the songs in their set.  Dimma, however, looked, acted, and sounded like rock stars, like metal gods from the bygone age of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.  The lead singer knew how to strike the poses and flat out hit the notes all the way through.  These guys are a new favorite, and I’ll be looking for some of their stuff before we leave.  Endless Dark followed with their own brand of quasi post-hardcore, a relatively large band with not one by two vocalists – though to be fair one was more a shouter/growler and the other a singer.  Regardless, they were hard, fast, and awesome.  Muck was next, and we saw them live when we were last in Reykjavik back in April.  Some decent punk, but while I didn’t think it was anything terribly special, they probably had the largest crowd in that room tonight.  Sólstafir was the band we really came to see, and while they were good their sound was a bit droning, sort of Icelandic cowboys (based on how they were dressed) singing like old Alice in Chains.  Their style is a difficult one to pin down – I think their music takes a conscious effort to truly appreciate.  A lot of people are way into them, and I feel like this is the kind of band I should totally love, but I just don’t quite get them.  We snuck out of there a bit early to head over to another room within Harpa to listen to a few songs by Yo La Tengo, who were decent in a kind of folk rock way.

After that it was off to the waffle truck for some amazing waffles before taking a chance and strolling to Dolly Bar downtown to see if our friend Ingvar, aka DJ Lucky, was still spinning his Afro-beat dance set there.  We’d only found out about this earlier in the evening, but we were able to catch the last 10 minutes or so in a packed sweat-box full of dancers, drinkers, and people snorting unknown substances.  At one point I saw a guy in a police uniform walking through and thought some folks were going to get busted, but Holly pointed out that his shirt was unbuttoned pretty much down to his pants, so… probably off duty?  Tough to say.

Oh yeah, and we saw the northern lights tonight just up the street from our apartment.  So check that one off the list of things to see.

God I need some sleep…