“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.

Madonna + Child – “All Around U” Cassette (2017)

If you were to ask me, “Hey Jeff, should I pick up the new Madonna + Child tape?”  I’d probably reply, “Well, that depends on how you feel about cats.”

Madonna + Child are a new electronic duo from Iceland, a pair of ladies who are doing their best to keep their true identities (and therefore their superheroine powers) under wraps.  Our friends over at Lady Boy just released their debut, a six song tape of trippy beats and, well, cat sounds.  Now, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the cat played as an instrument before (although it seems like something dj. flugvél og geimskip may have done), but the opening track “Kisulagið” is feline forward and includes a male voice occasionally saying “meow”, a weird yet appropriate touch.  Needless to say, this generated a few raised eyebrows from our dog, but wasn’t enough to make him get up out of his bed.

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That’s the only cat jam on the tape, and as near as I can tell there are no animal noises on the rest of All Around U, only slow beats and dreaminess.  It wouldn’t be right to call Madonna + Child ambient – there’s too much beat and bass here; but they’re definitely out there in the spirit world, floating about with vocalizations that often flow under the surface. “Cutboy” represents the apex of their style, a soft, deliberate piece that creates an environment of mild anxiety – it’s not scary here per se, more perhaps unsettling.  At least until towards the end when it turns into sheer terror for a few moments, jarring you awake and covered in sweat before it eases you back to dream land at the end.

As usual, this is available physically in a limited edition (of 50) cassette and/or as a digital download at the Lady Boy Bandcamp page HERE.  As for me, I’ll be looking for Madonna + Child at Airwaves and will hopefully get to catch them perform live later this year.