Tag Archive: Mum (the band)


Formed in 1997 Mum (the Icelandic band not the Danish prog rock band of the same name) have released six critically acclaimed albums to date and combine modern classical, post-rock, electronica and pop elements in their unique sound.

“Smilewound” is mines the same genres as their previous releases but stands out as its much more percussive. It’s very much Colleen’s “The Weighing of the Heart” (2013) in that it has an intimate , emotive and steady pace but contains a lot of percussive sounds both from drums and instruments like guitar and plucked violin. The album opens with ‘Toothwheels’ which combines a crunchy beat crushed beat and minimal delayed electric piano melody with the occasional interjection from a violin (both plucked and bowed). Around a minute in the female vocals come in bringing with them a simple distorted synth melody. I like how the piano’s role becomes dominate and expressive as the track progresses. ‘When Girls Collide’ utilises a great skipping electronic beat and echoing digital (FM) synth melody alongside slippery resonant synth bass line. The female vocals come in and the melody gets tighter and rougher with a hint of delay on the vocals. Things get more harmonically complex when a male vocal joins in a refrain around 3 minutes in.  ‘Candlestick’ with its FM synth melody, robust chugging synth bass line, 8 bit upbeat drums and reverberate female vocals, makes for a great alternative pop song.

Up next its ‘One Smile’ on which a xylophone plays a pretty melody over crunchy 8 bit drums before an insistent drum ‘n’ bass acoustic beat kicks and a guitar riffs funky on top. Violin swoops and adds yet more drama and tension and is swiftly joined by the female vocals and rhythm acoustic guitar. ‘Eternity Is the Wait Between Breaths’ combines adelayed  bitty digital synth with a xylophone melody which comes around the 2 minute mark, swiftly followed by yearning but dischordant bowed violin. There’s a good contrast between the three elements. A plucked violin enters around 3 minutes in and the track temporarily gains some forward momentum. The album closes with ‘Whistle’ featuring pop star Kylie Minogue on vocals. She’s backed by a delayed synth/xylophone melody acoustic piano chords and very fast pattering drums. An huge echo is added to her vocals around 2 minutes 30 seconds in then the drums drops out only to come back harder, pounding and the violin and vocals scale the heights together. It’s another great alternative pop song.

Overall, I liked “Smilewound” but as with previous Mum albums I’ve not been fully convinced by it, there seems to either something missing or the music lacks something that keeps you going back for more. It’s by no means a bad album but it might be a grower that needs time to reveal all its charms.

2nd September

Doctor Zygote – “Grupo Zygote” (Black Acre)

Doctor Zygote is a hip hop and instrumental beats based producer of music. Alongside DJ Jazz T he runs Boot Records, and also Zoot Records- a new sister label geared towards instrumental music. Alongside an unnamed rapper he is a member of STRANGE U.

9th September

Factory Floor – “Factory Floor” (DFA)

After two years of singles and build up it seems that the band will finally release their much anticipated début album in May 2013 on DFA records. The album will be preceded by the single ‘Fall Back’ eight and a half minutes of slow burning dance floor intensity.

Janelle Monae – “The Electric Lady” (Atlantic)

The follow-up to Monae’s debut album “The Archandroid” (2010) has been announced and is preceded by the single “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring Erykah Badu.

Mum – “Smilewound” (Morr Music)

Morr Music press release:

You don’t need to be Freud to regard teeth as a delicate issue. They can make joy look joyous and pain look painful, and on the cover of the new múm album they do both at the same time. As “Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is Okay” (2001), “Finally We Are No One” (2002) and “Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know” (2009) “Smilewound” is another example of the band’s art of juxtaposing two conflicting meanings and taking advantage of the energy created through the tension between both.

Sparser in sound than many of its predecessors, “Smilewound” is an airy, relaxed record. The múm-core-duo of Örvar and Gunni doesn’t make you laugh out loud (except maybe for the quirky vintage Arcade-sound-start of “When Girls Collide”), but it will make you smile often – despite the heavenly voices singing about violence in one form or another in most songs. Musically, múm’s capability to build playful electronic sound-ornaments around simple melodies is in full bloom. And these days they know that trimming the ornamentation can strengthen the melody. Take “The Colorful Stabwound”: an aguish drum’n’bass piece and”Smilewound” gets close to a straight pop-song. Even that isn’t very close, but it combines its rhythmic strength with a simple yet effective piano-line and the soothing lushness of a female voice to something compelling that follows you like the smell of a delicate eau de toilette. Or “Candlestick” which started out as a little ditty strummed on an acoustic guitar many years ago and has grown into this bouncy piece of synth-pop that changes its musical colours every couple of beats until you feel comfortably dizzy. Perfect pop in very fancy clothes. No wonder that antipodean pop-princess Kylie Minogue wanted to collaborate with múm on the “Whistle”, the main song in 2012-movie “Jack & Diane”.

Recorded in, among other places, the band’s practice-space, an old baltic farmhouse and on the kitchen-table after dinner, the album was produced by múm themselves. And being the revolving collective they are, it comes as no surprise that we see the return of former member Gyda. Defining satellites as part of the core fits nicely with the band’s penchant for ambivalence – in fact that’s part of the album’s charm.

Youngblood Brass Band – “Pax Volumi” (Tru Thoughts)

The latest is the band hope to complete the new album in autumn 2012 with a release planned for the the new year accompanied by an extensive world tour by this excellent live act!!!


%d bloggers like this: