“MYRKFÆLNI #2” Compilation Cassette (2018)

I love the fact that zines still exist today.  The irony is that it’s never been easier to design a zine exactly how you want it given the ready access we all have to desktop publishing tools that would have made our scissors-and-glue wielding predecessors envious, yet the even greater ease of online publishing and managing your own website makes the concept of actually printing it on paper seem quaint and dusty.  However, there are still some intrepid souls out there who see the value in creating something tangible, and for that I am glad.

Two such souls are designer Kinnat Sóley and musician Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir, who have worked together on releases by the Icelandic darkwave trio Kælan Mikla.  The pair just published the second issue of their zine devoted to the Icelandic underground music scene, MYRKFÆLNI, and I couldn’t be more impressed.  They followed a solid first issue with an expanded 92-page second offering full of concert and tour reviews, and articles about black metal, punk, and even performing arts.  Plus they included a two-sided Madonna + Child poster and, if you were one of the first 200 people to order the new issue, a cassette compilation featuring 13 tracks by 14 up-and-coming artists.  If you’re a regular or even semi-regular reader of Life in the Vinyl Lane you’ll know about quite a few of these musicians already – Dead Herring, Hatari, Pink Street Boys, Rattofer, and a bunch of others who are mostly still relatively new to the scene.  The collection of tracks is a combo of new songs and a few previously released numbers, but unless you’re deep into this scene chances are almost all of it will be new to you.

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MYRKFÆLNI #2 comes at you like a wrecking ball right out of the gate with the black-metal-slash-hardcore of World Narcosis, a song guaranteed to get the blood flowing through your veins no matter how tired you might be.  And that’s followed by IDK IDA’s “Sea Creatures”, which couldn’t be less black metal if it tried, a fluid, wandering new-age-like journey with beautify vocals that seem to float on the air.  And that transitions into the downtempo electro of Lúin Bein… leaving your brain swimming from the blend of musical styles you’re subjecting it to in succession, but a smile on your face because all these songs are so damn great!  I could go on and on about almost every song on this comp, but the one I need to gush about the most is the collaboration of the Cyber and Hatari on “HLAUPTU”, a killer jam that I could listen to over and over and over again.

Check out the MYRKFÆLNI Bandcamp page HERE, where you can find the zine and listen to all the songs on both comps they’ve released.  And make sure to check back, or even better follow them on Facebook, so you can get your order for issue #3 in early and ensure that you too will get whatever special goodies they have in store for our ears.

The Best of 2017

Unlike many Life in the Vinyl Lane blogs, I’m writing this one on the same day I’m posting it.  It’s Christmas morning, and out my living room window I can see the rare Seattle white Christmas in effect as we got about three inches of snow last night, which is a nice touch (it’ll be even nicer if it’s all melted off the roads by time I have to leave for work on Wednesday morning…).  But since we don’t have kids and both of us have very small immediate families, this morning is much like any other winter-time weekend, only with different holiday-themed coffee cups.

Going into 2017 I decided to start keeping a log to help me with my year-end lists, and while I wasn’t as diligent as I’d have liked it still was a big help, especially in the area of new releases.  There was a lot of great new music this year!  In fact, there was so much that the choices weren’t all that easy to make.  Since Holly and I both have project management backgrounds, though, we were able to come up with a solution – we created a scrum board of our favorite 16 releases of 2017 and then used a random number generator to select which one we would play every night as we worked our way through them.  And I’m glad we did, because there were some albums from earlier in the year that had fallen off our radars a bit, and man they sounded great when we came back around to them.

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In preparation I also spent a few hours combing through the top albums lists of various major (and minor) publications and blogs.  Perhaps even more so in years past I was struck by two things.  The first is how few of the albums on other lists I’ve heard.  In fact, when it came to the major pubs (think Rolling Stone, SPIN, NME…) I literally had only heard ONE album on any of these lists – Songhoy Blues’ Résistance, which appeared at #31 on the Rolling Stone list, though nowhere else.  The only other one I found was in The Quietus‘ top metal albums list, having heard and reviewed Sólstafir’s Berdreyminn.    So at least there’s that.  Only Dr. Rok’s list of Top 20 Icelandic releases yielded any common ground – I’ve heard 14 of these, which probably is indicative of the real issue here, which is that I listen to a lot of Icelandic music, and that stuff doesn’t generally make the year-end lists with a few exceptions.  And that brings me to my second observation.  I’m surprised how many of the bands on these lists I have never even heard of.  In fact, on most lists I’m lucky to have heard of maybe a quarter of the artists, sometimes less.  For a guy who writes a music blog, I sure don’t seem to know much about what’s happening in music.

All that being said, the scrum board has been taken down and the votes tallied.  So without further ado…

Top 5 New Releases In 2017

  1. Neysluvara – Hatari (Iceland)
  2. Midnight Champion – Legend (Iceland)
  3. Suero – Farmacia (Argentina)
  4. Space Cadaver – Space Cadaver (US – New Orleans)
  5. Sports – Fufanu (Iceland)

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There were two albums I knew were going to be in my Top 5 even before the scrum board experiment – Neysluvara and Midnight Champion.  They were clearly head-and-shoulders above all comers in 2017.  While Legend held an edge over Hatari by virtue of the fact that they put out a full album while their island-mates only gave us a four-song EP (and one that was only on CD to boot!), we were both simply blown away by Hatari.  Neysluvara‘s brand of IDM has been pumping out of my iPod almost non-stop over the last two months and it doesn’t get old.  If I’m being honest Hatari probably gets a little extra lift by the fact that we saw them live this year and they blew us away.  I get that that shouldn’t impact a top album kind of thing, but as Holly pointed out, this is a blog and music is a personal experience, and it’s hard to separate out those personal experiences from the music itself.  So as much as I love Midnight Champion, both musically and lyrically, I’m giving the top spot by Hatari.

Suero had fallen off the radar for a while and revisiting it reminded me of just how good it is.  If there’s one thing that separates it from Space Cadaver and Sports, it’s the sonic experimentation the Argentinian’s do.  Sure, it’s all electronic music; but it’s all over the board, from pure dance numbers to crazy experiments.  And I’d be lying if the personal connection we made with the Sima brothers earlier this year on our visit to Buenos Aires didn’t have an impact on my feelings about this album.  Space Cadaver is unquestionably my favorite metal album of 2017, and while I think it’s only available on cassette you owe it to yourself to get a copy and go buy a cheap boom box at the pawn shop so you can listen to it (or, of course, simply buy a download, you know, if you’re lazy like that), and Fufanu hit it out of the post-punk park with Sports.  From a genre standpoint I’m very happy with this Top 5 list as there’s great stuff here for people of almost any musical taste.

Top 5 “New to Me” Bands/Performers

  1. Hatari (Iceland)
  2. Farmacia (Argentina)
  3. Kuldaboli (Iceland)
  4. Revenge of Calculon (UK)
  5. Egyptian Lover (US)

I’ve already touched on the top two bands on this list, so let me move on to the next three.  Kuldaboli’s Vafasamur Lífsstíll 2015-2016 came out at the very end of 2016, and if I’d heard it then instead of early this year it probably would have made my top five new releases list last year – it’s that good.  I got to see him perform live at Lucky Records during Airwaves this years as well as chat with him for a few minutes – good dude.  We caught Revenge of Calculon live in the cramped, damp confines of Dillon on the last day of Airwaves and they killed it with their brand of electro-movie-horror-funk and since then I’ve picked up all four of their 7″ records.  As for Egyptian Lover… how had I gone this long without ever having heard the Lover before??  I can thank our friend Ingvar for this one.  We were chatting about music over dinner when he visited Seattle and was dumbfounded by my lack of Egyptian experience.  The next day at Silver Platters he walked up to me with a box set, pressed it in my hands, and said “you need to buy this”.  And he was right. Takk, Ingvar!

Top 5 Vinyl Purchases

  1. “Tug of War” b/w “Give Me the Knife” – Connections
  2. Driving the Bats Thru Jerusalem – Bonemen of Barumba
  3. 20 Jazz Funk Greats – Throbbing Gristle
  4. Special Offer – Sensational
  5. Suero – Farmacia

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Four of the five items on this list have some kind of personal connection, actually resulting in me becoming connected with the artists.  The totally random pick-up of the Connections 7″ led me to former member Nolan Anderson and his lovely wife Catherine, who today perform as the Mad Andersons.  I was able to provide a ripped copy of the songs to Nolan, which he hadn’t heard in decades, and that made me feel really good.

My post on Bonemen of Barumba somehow found its way to former founding member Mark Panick, who stunned me when he posted on Facebook that he liked the fact that I obviously “got it” in terms of what the band was doing.  We later connected online, only to come to find out that we have a friend in common – the one and only Ingvar of Reykjavik’s Lucky Records.  Mark even sports a Lucky t-shirt in a video he was in earlier this year.  Ingvar struck again with Sensational, who I turned him onto during his trip to Seattle and who he then, against all logical odds, ran into randomly on the streets of NYC just days later.  That led to me Facebook messaging with Sensational a bit and buying some mail order from him.

Oddly enough Iceland also played a part in us connecting with Ariel and Diego Sima of Farmacia in Buenos Aires – their album Suero was put out on cassette by Reykjavik’s Lady Boy Records.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time with the brothers while in Argentina and picked up a bunch of their back catalog from them.  As for Throbbing Gristle… this one was purely about acquisition.  My local record haunt Vortex posted on FB that they’d just acquired a bunch of experimental stuff from a local DJ and I immediately wend down to the store where I scored a couple of great condition TG titles, a great opportunity to explore some of the early works of the pioneers of industrial music.

Top 5 Live Shows

  1. Hatari – Gamla Bíó, Reykjavik
  2. Sir Mix-A-Lot – Nectar Lounge, Seattle
  3. Metallica – CenturyLink Field, Seattle
  4. Revenge of Calculon – Dillon, Reykjavik
  5. GusGus – Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik

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I thought I had this list wrapped up about a week ago.  And I did.  At least until we headed out to Nectar Lounge on Dec. 23 and caught Sir Mix-A-Lot live, which forced me into a last-minute revision.

I covered the Hatari, Revenge of Calculon, and Gusgus shows in my various posts from Iceland Airwaves this year, and actually did the same about Metallica when I wrote about the live CD of this actual show.  Each of these shows gave me something different.  Hatari was a brilliant performance, an integration of stage presence and music; Metallica was a chance to revisit my youth, the first time I’d seen the masters of thrash live since the late 1980s; Revenge of Calculon was one of those great unexpected surprises you sometimes get at live shows; and Gusgus… what more can I say about Gusgus?  They gave us a 90 minute set that had the crowd swaying and dancing the entire time and were musically brilliant as always.

As for Mix-A-Lot, he’s Seattle hip hop royalty and his 1986 debut LP Swass spent a lot of time in the cassette player of my ’84 Mustang when I was in high school.  He did shows on back-to-back nights at the intimate Nectar Lounge (max capacity 400) in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood last weekend and we had a blast at the Saturday night gig.  In addition to some new stuff, Mix gave us a ton of classics like “Testarossa”, “Beepers”, “My Hooptie”, “Swass”, and even a little “Buttermilk Biscuits”.  Of course he also played his mega-hit “Baby Got Back”, but as a Seattleite and long-time Sir Mix-A-Lot fan there was one song I HAD to hear, and he gave it to us – “Posse on Broadway”.  Rest assured Mix fans, he’s still got it.  Posse up!

Top 5 Places to Buy Records

North America
1.  Easy Street Records, Seattle
2.  Daybreak Records, Seattle
3.  Disko Obscura, New Orleans
4.  Skully’z Recordz, New Orleans
5.  Extremem Noise Records, Minneapolis

The Rest of the World
1.  Lucky Records, Reykjavik
2.  Reykjavik Record Shop, Reykjavik
3.  Smekkleysa, Reykjavik
4.  Tempo Musica, Buenos Aires
5.  Reykjavik Flea Market

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I swear, much of these lists don’t change don’t change from year to year.  It would be a weird for Easy Street not to be #1 for me in North America given how often we go there, though the relatively new Daybreak Records definitely gives Easy Street a run for its money in the area of used vinyl.  Our trip to New Orleans didn’t yield a ton of music, but Disko Obscura’s collection of great synth albums was well worth the visit and the guy over at Skully’z turned us on to Space Cadaver and some good punk and metal stuff, which was cool.  I’ve been to Minneapolis a bunch of times, but somehow never made it to Extreme Noise, an oversight I was glad to correct this year – tons of great punk and metal there.  We have a trips to Portland (OR) and Denver already on the books for the first half of 2018, so I definitely have some more good record shopping in my future.

We didn’t do as much international travel this year has we have in the recent past, only visiting two countries – Iceland and Argentina (hard to say we “only” got to take two international trips this year… we’re super-fortunate to be able to travel as much as we do). Unfortunately the one thing we found to be expensive in Argentina was vinyl, which was seemingly completely out of whack with reality.  I found some exciting early punk stuff, but at $150+ per record US I just couldn’t do it.  I broke down and picked up a couple of titles, but our best success was in the tiny Tempo Musica where we loaded up on local CDs thanks to a lot of help from the owner (and some recommendations from a couple of guys working at a food truck earlier in the day!).  The rest of the shops are all in Reykjavik and you’ve likely heard me prattle on about them endlessly in the past, but all are great places to check out should you find yourself in Iceland.

Top 5 Music Books

  1. Art Sex Music by Cosey Fanni Tutti
  2. Lou Reed:  A Life by Anthony DeCurtis
  3. Complicated Fun: The Birth of Minneapolis Punk and Indie Rock, 1974-1984 by Cyn Collins
  4. Disco’s Out…Murder’s In!: The True Story of Frank the Shank and L.A.’s Deadliest Punk Rock Gang by Heath Mattioli and David Spacone
  5. I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell

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I didn’t do as much music reading this year as I have in years past – probably only 7-8 books total.  That being said, I’m comfortable in recommending all of these to you.  Art Sex Music is head and shoulders above the rest, giving us as it does a glimpse into the 1970s experimental scene in the UK by Throbbing Gristle member and artist Cosey Fanni Tutti.  Tutti isn’t afraid to let us know anything about her life and art, and her seemingly near-complete transparency makes for a powerful, if at times sad, read.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her work.  DeCurtis’ book on Lou Reed was deeply researched and I was primarily drawn to the more pure biographical aspects of the narrative, not so much the minutiae of Reed’s individual releases.  Complicated Fun is an entertaining and informative oral history of the Minneapolis scene, one that in many ways is reminiscent of Seattle’s, while the last two are entertaining first person tellings of hard punk rock lives.  It also features our very own Kevin Cole from Seattle’s KEXP radio, as Kevin was a noted DJ and record store owner in Minneapolis during the era.  it’s a small, small world.

 

Well, there you have it, my faithful readers.  Thank you, as always, for your support and comments.  While at times the pure need to write overwhelms me to the point where I feel like it’s something I have to do in order to not spontaneously combust, Life in the Vinyl Lane doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it’s put me in touch with some amazing people over the years, perhaps no year more so than 2017.  And it’s these connections that make it a truly special experience.  So no matter where you’re reading this, I say “thank you”, and I’ll see you in 2018!

Hatari – “Neysluvara” (2017)

From Iceland Music’s recent interview with the band Hatari:

Interviewer:  What is Hatari?

Response:  Hatari is a multimedia project that aims to reveal the relentless scam that we call everyday life.

Interviewer:  What is everyday life?

Response:  It is an ongoing parade in which we all take part.  A hyper-individualistic… pit… where our identities are commodities and mechanisms of social cohesion are systematically undermined.

Using music as a method for socio-political commentary is, of course, nothing new.  But this level of clarity is perhaps a but unusual.  The English language Reykjavik Grapevine asked Hatari for an interview to be included in their special Iceland Airwaves 2017 edition, and the band responded instead with a page-long passage from Noam Chomsky about neoliberalism.  They offer critiques of the capitalist system they find themselves living in, yet still release a physical album, a four-song CD that was selling for 2.500 kr (♠) and unabashedly entitled Neysluvara, which translates to Consumer.  The packaging is unique and thoughtful, as is the well-designed insert booklet.  There’s an acknowledgement on their part that these two parts of their project, the political and the commercial, on the surface appear to be at odds, but note that they themselves have grown up in this capitalist system and as a result are a part of it whether they want to be or not.  They dress in what could be described as fascist bondage chic. Their lyrics are dark and so are their videos.

And they put out what may very well be the very best album put out by anyone, anywhere, in any genre in 2017. (♥)

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There was a lot of chatter about Hatari’s live show as Airwaves 2017 got underway, and while we’d never heard their music we made a point of getting to Gamla Bíó early on Thursday, November 2 so we could stake out a good spot to catch the performance.  And right from the very start we knew we were in for something special.  The audience was rapt and the performance was, quite frankly, flawless.  There were costumes and great music and dancers dressed like the walked off the set of The Road Warrior who had fanny packs full of lollypops that they tossed into the crowd.  Musically it was IDM at its finest – it didn’t even matter that the vocals were all sung in Icelandic, because the cadence and venom with which they were delivered told you everything you needed to know.

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Shriveled fruits of vanished expectations
Keep the riffraff enraptured.
Spiritual bankruptcy
Sucks the marrow from initiative
And suffocates it in bitterness.
— “X” (translated from Icelandic)

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Neysluvara opens with “X”, a song that, based on lyrical translation, is a screed against the  rich and powerful who use their power to keep the majority down, scratching away to barely make enough to survive.  “Our daily bread / Is salt in our wounds”, we’re told in a raspy delivery over dark IDM beats.  “Tortímandi” (which translates to “Destroy”) maintains to pounding assault, but with the addition of some higher range harmonies that soar about the wall of pain the rest of the song delivers.  Things let off just a little on “Biðröð Mistaka” (“Queue Mistake”) with a less oppressive song foundation and more room for the higher pitch vocals to own an entire part, almost giving a sense of hope before the final third kicks in and the primary vocals pound the now-whispy higher ones into submission.  The EP closes with “Ódýr” (“Cheap”), and here again we gain the benefit of translated lyrics that accompany the video.  The pace here is much slower, the vocals more pained and desperate.

The years slip from you like breadcrumbs tossed in the trash.
They pile up on the heaps of broken dreams.
You look back and think:
Why did I sell myself –
Why did I sell myself –
So cheap?

It’s a fitting end, like a resigned sigh as life comes to an end and you realize your mistakes.   Certainly you can listen to Neysluvara as a treatise on nihilism, but in fact I think it’s the opposite, instead a call to recognize what’s happening and do something about it.  The what, of course, is entirely up to you; but as they say, the first part in finding a solution is recognizing that you have a problem.

I can’t praise Neysluvara enough.  I’ve played it at least 20 times, if not more, since our return from Iceland in early November, and as I mentioned earlier it will definitely appear on my Top 5 list for 2017.  Tracking down a copy may prove to be tough, but I believe you can access all four tracks at the band’s website HERE and leave you with the video for “X” below.

(♠)  Roughly $25 US.

(♥)  You’ll just have to come back to the blog on December 25 when I post my “Best of 2017” lists to see just how highly I regard Neysluvara.

Iceland Airwaves 2017 – Reflections

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Our 9th consecutive Airwaves is in the books.  Will we make it a nice round 10 next year?  I’m not sure, but things are leaning towards “no” as I have some work commitments that all come to a head right when Airwaves 2018 starts.  But that’s a big unknown at this point, and I’m still basking in the afterglow of a pretty solid festival.

On the surface this year’s lineup looked a bit soft – a lot of the big-name Icelandic acts that normally play Airwaves weren’t there this year, which was a bit of a bummer.  But it also meant that we’d see a lot more new-to-us bands, and that’s always an exciting prospect. And those bands delivered, some of them in pretty massive ways.

The move away from Harpa was a good one, IMO, bringing the festival back to it’s small-club-hopping roots.  I was bummed to walk past NASA last week only to see a crew literally in the process of demolishing it… I guess 2016 was truly the last hurrah of what I thought was Reykjavik’s best music venue.  I should have tried to snag something as a memento, but honestly seeing it like that was just plain sad.  The Hard Rock adds a nice new and suitably-sized location though, and Gamla Bíó is quickly becoming one of my favorite venues.  And, as usual, KEX Hostel and KEXP put on a fantastic off-venue lineup (like Russia’s ГШ/Glintshake shown below).  The only negative thing at all I can say about the KEX shows is that many of them are insanely packed; but that the way it is – they’re open to everyone, with or without a wristband.  We just get there early, grab some beers, and stake out our spots.

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I feel like I didn’t buy as much music this year as I have in years past, though in reality I still came home with a ton of stuff, including more than the normal amount of CDs as the flea market was VERY good for CD digging this year.  Of the 20 or so 12″ and dozen 7″ records I brought back, at least half were new-ish releases, whereas the CDs were almost all used and 10+ years old.  While we returned home on Monday evening, I also took Tuesday off from work and used that time, in part, to clean records and listen to CDs.  I’ve got so much incredible music to get to and share with you that I’m actually slightly anxious about how much stuff is on my To-Listen-To shelf.  But I know I’m up to the challenge!

So… on to my “Best of Airwaves 2017” list!

Best Venue:  There was a fair amount of competition in this category.  This was the first year we’d seen shows at the Hard Rock and the upstairs room of Dillon, and we saw some solid shows in each.  KEX Hostel was great as always, as was Gamla Bíó, and the Dr. Spock show at Húrra was off the charts.  But I have to pick one, so I’m going with Gamla Bíó.  It’s a great space, the stage is high enough that you can see the musicians even if the floor is packed and you’re short, and the sound was near-perfect.  Add to that the fact that we saw unquestionably the best show of the festival there (more on that below), I’m giving Gamla Bíó the crown for 2017 with an honorable mention to that tiny, crammed room at the top of Dillon (leaky roof and all…) where we saw some outstanding shows with a fun mix of locals and visitors.  We’ll make sure Dillon is in the regular rotation in the future.

Best Show:  There were a few legitimate contenders for this award, but I’m going with the freak-fest that Hatari (below) put on at Gamla Bíó on Thursday night.  Bondage gear, spiked masks, dancers who came straight off the Road Warrior movie set… it was a feast for the eyes and flowed perfectly with Hatari’s brand of in-your-face IDM.  The best one-word description I can provide is “captivating”; you simply couldn’t take your eyes off of what was happening on the stage.  The room was completely packed and it was apparent that the band had everyone’s rapt attention.  It’s easy to ride the emotional high of a recent show and say “that was the best show ever”, but I think the last five days has given me a bit of perspective and… that was the best show I’ve ever seen at Airwaves!  Holy crap it was fantastic.  Right up there with Gusgus at NASA in ’09 and FM Belfast at NASA in ’10.  It was the kind of show that makes me re-think both music and performance.

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Best New-To-Me Band:  Given what I just wrote above the obvious answer here is Hatari.  However, I’d like to recognize another band that absolutely crushed it, one that also put on a crazed live performance, and since it’s my blog, that’s what I’m gonna do.

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We only saw three bands on Sunday.  Frankly we almost came away only seeing one because a storm blew into town and the rain was coming down sideways in the early evening, but we decided to tough it out and head to Dillon in the late afternoon and it was there that we experienced the self-described “Lo-Fi Electro Funk Luchadors” that are Revenge of Calculon (right).  This had lots of elements that I love – sampling from movie clips, synths, electronic weirdness, funky bass, and luchador masks.  These dudes from the UK killed it, then brought it back to life with the power of funk.  It was a great performance on every level and I bought a some 7″ singles from the band after the show… and they even threw in a luchador mask!  Hail Calculon!

Coolest Music Purchase(s):  From a rarity standpoint I was glad to get my hands on a copy of Drýsill’s 1985 metal record Welcome to the Show, which is legitimately tough to find.  Same goes for The Magnetics’ 1981 synth record A Historical Glimpse of the Future. From a pure listening standpoint I was actually most excited about running across not one but two CDs from Bubbleflies and a comp by OG punks Fan Houtens Kókó called Gott Bít.  I played all three today, and at a combined cost of about 20 bucks I couldn’t be happier/

Biggest Regret:  I wanted to go see FM Belfast at the Art Museum on Friday night, but bottom line is I lacked the energy.  Our friends Norberto and J went and said it was awesome, and I’m 100% sure it was.  Fortunately we’ve seen them a number of times in the past, so I don’t feel too guilty about missing this set.

 

We’re not sure what next year has in store for us, and whether or not those plans include Reykjavik.  One thing is for certain, though – 2017 won’t be our last Iceland Airwaves.  With so many great friends in Iceland, and more joining the family every year, I just know that we’ll be back.  So Reykjavik, keep the lights on for us, and keep pumping out all of that great music.

Iceland Airwaves 2017 – Day 2

Day 2 didn’t know if it wanted to be rainy or sunny in Reykjavik, so instead it decided to be both at the same time.

But a little rain couldn’t stop us and after sleeping in we hit the streets just after Noon.  Our first stop was the retail space/office of FM Belfast‘s Lóa, who posted on Facebook yesterday that she’d have some pre-release copies of the band’s new album Island Broadcast available.  The vinyl copies were still in transit, but I picked up a signed copy of the CD as well as a signed print drawing she did of the entire band (Lóa is an accomplished artist across multiple mediums).  After that it was off to Bíó Paradís to catch the electronica set by one of our favorite Lady Boy Records alumni, Andi, who as usual did not disappoint with a fun mid-tempo set.  From there we popped over to Íslenski Barinn for some lunch, and while there heard one of the most unusual live performances we’ve ever experienced at Airwaves.

When people ask me “what kind of music do they play at Airwaves” my canned response is “everything but country and jazz”.  Well, the opening song by this female duo in matching dresses who go by Bergmál seemed to effectively cross country off the list with a somewhat comical song about how not remembering someone’s name is about the meanest thing you can do.  But then things took a turn for the surreally weird with a song literally about women farting.  And then came the pièce de résistance, a song called “Your Anus Is Not of Uranus”, which helps clarify the fact that the planet is not the same thing as, well, you know… your anus.  A song that includes the lyrically incredible Biology… and astronomy bitches… the four of us were laughing so hard that we were all in tears.  That was followed by songs about necrophilia and menstruation, because of course it was.  Just check out their video.  You’re welcome.

Later in the afternoon we headed over to KEX Hostel to catch the Russian new wave/punk band ГШ/Glintshake (below/left), a show that was being broadcast live back to Seattle (and across airwaves17Day21the planet via the black magic of the internet).  And man did they hit it out of the park.  With a funky rhythm section and sometimes jangly, sometimes disjointed guitars, they maintained a old-school punk rock edge with a pop aesthetic.  We scored a spot right in the front and as always at the KEX shows the sound and lighting was perfect.  As soon as the show ended I get a text from my buddy Travis in Seattle telling me he’d just heard this band live on KEXP and that I had to check them out… and it was the show we literally just saw.  I’ll definitely be trying to track down some of their albums.

After a couple of beers at the KEX bar it was out to the beautiful theater Gamla Bíó for some metal and industrial.  Godchilla opened up the on-venue evening and delivered a heavy sludge metal set that was thick and driving.  Next up was Une Misère (right), a airwaves17day22relatively new Icelandic hardcore band that provided an unexpected shot in the arm that hit me like a dose of meth. (♣)  With three guitars this six-man outfit came out in straight aggro style, got in our faces, yelled at us, and drove nails into our skills with the sheer wall of power they produced.  Une Misère came, saw, and conquered all before them and left us all impressed.

And then shit got weird.

Like, really, really weird.

The band I was most interested in seeing tonight was Hatari (below), (♠) who have built a reputation not only for their music but for the extremeness of their visual performance.  Some folks who saw their show at KEX earlier in the festival were uncertain about the whole thing but the high stage and dark room of Gamla Bíó was the perfect setting for their brand of harsh IDM.  The place was packed and the mood just right when the guys came out dressed in their best bondage gear and proceeded to tear our faces off.  The sheer performance was impressive, with all three members staying within their on-stage personaes throughout flanked by a pair of female dancers who looked like they walked off the set of one of the Road Warrior movies… at least until they opened up their black fanny packs (yes, fanny packs) and started throwing suckers into the crowd.  It was pure, controlled insanity and the crowd lapped up every last drop of it.  Their new album just dropped and you know damn well I picked it up.  While the CD will lack the stunning visuals of the live performance, the music in and of itself was outstanding and I have a feeling it’s going to be in regular rotation upon our return.  We ran into the guys later in the evening, and they couldn’t have been nicer and more reserved.  Holly and I agree that this was definitely one of the Top 5 shows (out of 300 or so…) we’ve ever seen at Airwaves… and might just be #1.

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Following that we bounced out to Gaukurinn where we saw an interesting trio of performances.  First up we caught the tail end of the set by CeaseTone, a sort of modern new wavy group.  Next was the enjoyable singer-songwriter tunes of Soffía Björg who held the audience in the palm of her hand throughout her 30+ minute performance.  Then it was Hong Kong’s A New World If You Can Take It (ANWIYCTI), a band featuring three bass players and a drummer.  Their low beats were intriguing, though might have benefitted from higher pitched vocals to offset the chest-pounding low end.

That brought us to our last stop of the night as we popped next door to Húrra.  There we caught the tail-end of dj. flugvél og geimskip who absolutely packed the house and had requested in advance of the show that people vape during the performance, all the better for all her crazy lighting.  But we were there because we had an appointment with the good doctor.  And by good I mean bad.  And by doctor I mean the yellow rubber-glove-wearing Dr. Spock (below).  It didn’t take long from the start of the set for a fairly substantial mosh pit to break out in the small confines of the Húrra performance space, and the crowd and band fed off of each other’s energy throughout the blistering punk/metal set.  The “Sons of Ecuador” killed it, as did their insane Beach Boys cover and interlude featuring Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”.  Horns and raised fists all around.

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After a late-night hot dog, interrupted by three dudes not wearing any shirts screeching around in a BMW convertible with the top down at 1:00AM, it was time to call it a night.

Two days down, three to go!

(♣) Disclaimer:  I’ve never done meth.  I enjoy having my teeth too much for that.

(♠) Not to be confused with the 1962 John Wayne movie about big-game hunting called Hatari!, because that would have been even weirder.