'Wait a moment, I have to spit,’ mumbles Örvar Póreyjarson Smárason down the phone, followed by a watery sound. ‘Sorry, I was brushing my teeth.’
It seems that no matter how strange and other-worldly your music sounds, there are always mundane corporeal matters to deal with. Icelandic electronica collective Múm (pronounced ‘moom’) are in the middle of a US tour when we catch up with them, and we’ve just woken Smárason up.
Múm’s world tour is several months long, testament to how well their quirky and organic blend of glitchy beats, surreal noises and oddball singing translates around the globe. The band’s recent fourth album, called, in typically oblique fashion, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy was an imaginative step forward for the band, with a more diverse musical palette and more varied moods to their idiosyncratic juddering beats.
‘We went further into our way of doing things,’ reveals Smárason. ‘We don’t use a conventional studio, we just went to a lot of different places, almost like going on holidays, and we wrote and recorded and played everywhere we went.’
The resulting record is one which finds Smárason and his main partner in crime Gunnar Örn Tynes in a more upbeat mood than on previous outings, which have tended towards the darker end of electronica. In contrast, Go Go . . ., is full of lighter moments, from the playfulness of ‘Rhubarbidoo’ to the futuristic electro-wonk of ‘Dancing Behind My Eyelids’.
The pair formed Múm ten years ago, along with twin sisters Gyda and Kristín Anna Valt´ysdóttir (both more famous for being on a Belle and Sebastian record cover). While the girls have since left, Tynes and Smárason have been joined by an ever-rotating list of Icelandic musicians, and currently sport a seven-piece live outfit.
‘A really positive thing about the Icelandic music scene, is that one person will usually play in a lot of different bands, a techno band one day, then a rock band, then a pop band,’ says Smárason. ‘Everyone’s friends and wants to play with each other and help each other.’
If only all music scenes were like that, we might have more bands like Múm. (Doug Johnstone)
Oran Mor, Glasgow, Fri 14 Dec