Epic Rain - “All Things Turn To Rust” (2019)

With All Things Turn To Rust Epic Rain takes us on a guided tour into insanity.  The only question remaining is, is this a one way trip?

Dripping with jazz influences, Jóhannes Birgir Pálmason continues to push to evolve as Epic Rain, over time moving from hip hop to pure storytelling, both with words and sounds.  The opening track, “Lumaclad Reflector”, drifts off towards the classical end of the spectrum, the instrumental establishing the sombre mood of the album, casting a damp nighttime blanket over you, the closing repeated note sounding like a distorted fog horn off in the distance… but you can’t tell the direction it’s coming from… I wondered for a moment if we weren’t in store for an instrumental album, but the next track “Distortion of Reality” quickly erased that thought (though there are other instrumental tracks) as I was ushered into a killer’s mind, his thoughts and motivations laid bare, Jóhannes’ voice matter-of-factly painting the scene, both internal and external.  “Every Road” takes us on another trip deep into a depraved and, in this case, hopeless mind, this time using a martial style snare drum roll to act as a counter to the depth of the rest of the music.  This time it’s a suicide.  Or is it a murder suicide… ?  I’m not quite sure.  On “Apart” we find him on the verge of singing, the lyrics including a chorus and patterns that give them a style closer to rock than hip hop while still maintaining the sense of setting, of place and time.  A female vocalist joins Epic Rain on “Mirror Maze”, “Framing the Sky”, and “Evil By Heart”, taking over the duties with her underlying sadness, the sound of someone so exhausted that they don’t have any more tears to give but still haven’t managed to purge those feelings, a contrast from Jóhannes’ more menacing style.  He returns to close the album on “Trading Secrets” (I trade secrets with your reflection in the water…), the tempo picking up as the races to the finish.  Is it the dawn peaking over the horizon?  Did we survive another dangerous night to arrive at the respite of daylight?  And will tomorrow night bring more of the same…?

All Things Turn To Rust is available to stream, as well as purchase by download or on limited release vinyl on the Epic Rain Bandcamp page HERE.  You can also pick it up directly from Reykjavik’s Lucky Records, as it’s on their own Lucky Records label as well.

Subminimal - “Intemperie” Cassette (2019)

Subminimal is Icelander electronic musician Tjorvi Oskarsson, and Intemperie is his latest solo release.  While Oskarsson made his name in drum and bass, Intemperie sees him moving in a more ambient, atmospheric direction, a collection of five long, quiet passages that are more about setting a mood than your putting your feet in motion.  The songs take us to peaks of sorts, but there are no dramatic bass drops here, instead a gradual dropping off as each song eventually fades out.  There’s a cinematic quality to the pieces, something perfect for documentary films featuring long, slow, beautiful shots in high definition, the kind usually reserved for nature and space-related themes.

Intemperie is available digitally and via cassette (limited to 50 copies) on Subminimal’s Bandcamp page HERE.

Pink Street Boys - “Heiglar” (2019)

The self-proclaimed “LOUDEST BAND IN THE WORLD” (IN ALL CAPS!) is back, and they’re as sweaty and grungy and lo-fi as ever.  I speak, of course, of Pink Street Boys, who are here to smoke all your cigs, drink all your beer, and probably leave behind a few new and unidentifiable stains on the furniture.

Heiglar is the Boys’ four full-length and their first on the Reykjavik Record Shop label.  And it’s clear that their mission hasn’t changed - they play straight-forward garage rock.  Nothing fancier than maybe an effects pedal.  Elements of garage, surf, and psych meld together into a sticky stew with a slight aftertaste of last night’s bad decisions.  From the surf punk of “Hvunndagshetjur” to the full-throated aggro of “Róni” to the raspy rockabilly of “Á Rúntinum” the Boys from the mean streets of Kópavogur offer no respite, no opportunity to catch your breath outside of the few seconds of silence between each of Heiglar‘s 10 songs.

The official release of this bad boy was just a few days ago, so I don’t see it up anywhere on the interwebs at the moment.  That being said, I know Reynir over at Reykjavik Record Shop, that killer combo of label and record store, will be happy to sell you one, so hit him up online and get a copy of this grimy wax for yourself.

Tilfinningar Vina Minna - “Tónlist Hljómar Samt Betur Með Þér” 10″ (2018)

Comprised of two members of Sudden Weather Change and a guy from Oyama (who was also, more importantly in my mind, a member of Fist Fokkers), Tilfinningar Vina Minna perform a sort of dream pop on the five-song Tónlist Hljómar Samt Betur Með Þér. Beats, layered electronics, and modulated vocals combine to produce an enjoyable poppy concoction, not so much sticky sweet as it is icy cold.

Released on 10″ lathe cut vinyl by Reykjavik Record Shop, Tónlist Hljómar Samt Betur Með Þér is super-limited with only 50 hand-numbered copies produced.  I think the shop has a few left, so you can either hit them up or grab a copy from Discogs.

Konsulat - “Kolaport” (2018)

This little 10″ gem is a collaboration of Arnljótur Sigurðsson, best known for his work with the Icelandic reggae band Ojba Rasta (but just as importantly in my mind for playing bass on the best songs on Berndsen’s Lover In the Dark), and Þórður Grímsson of A & E Sounds fame.  It’s a super limited release of only 25 copies, each of which are hand-numbered just inside the jacket.

Kolaport is definitely not what I was expecting from this pair.  It’s beat-driven electronica, though I’m at a loss to provide a subgenera.  I’d say it’s mid-tempo - hardly ambient, but not a dancefloor banger either.  They synths on “Dagga Dagga” are a touch retro while the beats have an 808-like punch, remaining cohesive while never falling into any kind of rut.  Meanwhile “Lífsblómið” introduces vocal samples overlaid onto a more more sterile and colder beat.  I confess I’m a sucker for these kinds of samples, though, and I dig what Konsulat are doing on this track.

You can give Kolaport a listen on Bandcamp HERE.  Note the full digital album is eight tracks, while this 10″ is comprised of only two.  Given the limited quantity of the vinyl pressing, it’ll likely be a tough one to track down in a physical format.