Grapevine Airwaves 2011

October 18, 2011

Mannheim Outlingers Do It Waaaay Better!

Mammút at Gaukur á Stöng by Ægir Freyr Birgisson

Music Overview

  • Artists: Orphic Oxtra, Coral, We Made God, Thulebasen, Mammút
  • Venue:  Gaukur á Stöng
  • Time:  Sunday
  • The Good:  Thulebasen. So simple, powerful, effective, beautiful. It made all the local attempts at music (Mammút excepted) look rather embarassing in comparison.
  • The Bad:  Coral was so flat, drained and clichéd. Couldn't take We Made God that seriously.
  • Reviewed by: Bob Cluness & Sindri Eldon
  • Photo: Mammút at Gaukur á Stöng by Ægir Freyr Birgisson

ORPHIC OXTRA

Bob: Yup the Balkan klemzacore of Orphic Oxtra. That first song was rather long wasn’t it?

Sindri: Well they have an hour set so they’re taking their time aren’t they?

B: Where is that piano though? I can hear piano but I can’t see that person on the stage.

S: (after a few minutes) Oh, I see them; they’re behind the accordion player. I would like this much more if the first few songs weren’t all based on the same key structure. They’re very talented and I do love the rhythms but they don’t have to play the same song fucking over and over again.

B: Mind you that saxophone player looked like he was going to tear something important inside him the way he was playing. The end of the set had a lot more jazz leanings to it. Especially the one song that sounded more like jazz metal riffing.

S: Yeah that was definitely the best song. I liked how almost emo it got.  And they can sing! They’re not just band camp nerds. Mind you how can you actually write this kind of music? And those complex lines at 100 miles an hour. Does it start out as sheet music?

B: Well I do think they’re classically trained musicians. But I don’t really know

S: And then you try to explain to the guys next to you. “Right, then it goes Du-Du-Duh Duh Du Du Dududududududdduuuuuu Du Du.”

B: Shit I don’t know. Listen ORPHIC OXTRA, if you do end up reading this review, please put a comment afterwards explaining how the hell you write those musical lines. We seriously don’t know.

S: Please do that. We admit that we’re completely useless at knowing this.

B: Computer says no.

S: I also think what they need going forward is some crazy batshit insane producer who uses a lot of drugs who’ll try really interesting things with them in the studio.

B: A Phil Spector type who’d hold them hostage in a tiny studio for three days at gun point with a dozen crack pipes going “Play this note and take this stuff, or I will shoot you.” That might be an interesting album.

CORAL

B: So this is Coral: did he just call the non-Icelanders “Outlings” or “Outlingers”? That sounds like when George Lucas insisted on calling children “younglings” in his Star Wars movies.

S: Maaaaan, why do bands still try to pull this pathetic shtick that just like (puts on thick accent) “oh we are just Icelandic people”. It’s not even ironically funny anymore.

B: Of course you will have foreign people here! It’s a major international music festival that has thousands of tourists descend. The start of their set was really similar in sound to a UK band I saw on Thursday, The Violet May. Very much monotone 4X4 stoner riffs. His vocals are weird though. There seems to be no bottom end to it.

S: Well his singing has been off for ten years so why change it now?

B: Wait, ten years? How have I never heard of this band until this year?

S: Because you’re a very lucky man. Let me ask you a question, what’s the guitarist’s favourite band?

B: Um…. (listens for a minute) Muse?

S: Correct! I remember the guitarist when he first started he has all this coloured spiked hair. He so wanted to be like the guitar player from Muse.

B: Well they’re trying but man it all seems so flat. You go to a place like London or New York, and you’ll end up finding local bands like this plugging away at the bottom rungs of the scene, playing all the standard indie rock templates. They obviously want to live the dream, but you know that they’re not going anywhere.

S: I tell you though that they are being done in a little bit by the sound. I mean, think just how much more bearable they would be if the guitars sounded really punchy and powerful.

(The singer makes a statement that the audience should do one of two things this weekend. They should either buy their album, or kill a politician. Generates some laughs. He then goes a bit further and says if you do kill a politician, then mark their body with an anarchist symbol and a sentence in Icelandic so that people will think there is a movement for change here in Iceland. Silence)

B: So their last song is apparently called Do Acid And Fuck the Law! And I think he may have pushed that last comment a little too far, no?

S: Wow that was possibly the most awkward political statement I’ve heard in the last 24 hours.

B: Then there was the drum solo and the posing at end of the last song. Míri, I take it all back, the things I have written about you in the past about your weakness for instrument posing. No, this was true cock rock cliché! AARGH!

WE MADE GOD

S: I can’t watch We Made God without starting to think about penis size.

B: The first word that came to my head was Chickenhawk. I reviewed their last album and felt that for what they did they did really good, but I never realised just how “emo” they looked and sounded live. It doesn’t really come across on the record. Especially the singer, slightly cocking his head forward for his really long fringe to droop over the pained expressions in his eyes.

S: And the way he keeps putting his black hood back on after it falls of. I swear I could hear several teenage girls screaming when they did that.

B: But hey, remember… it’s all about feeeelings. I will say this that they are much better than the band that was on before. Much heavier, thrashing cymbals, more screaming.

S: It’s like, if you want to go out to see a show where you want moments of massive headbanging intercoupled with moments of quiet introspection when you think about the mistakes you’ve made in your teenage life, then this is definitely the band for you.

B: And the way they try to show their their Inner Darkness.

S: I didn’t know such a pretentious term could be coined by a human being. It should be the real name for this band.

B: Well maybe those human beings from Mannheim could coin such a phrase. When they spend too much time around their gothic architecture. Their last song was a good climatic ending though.

S: I like that bands often have to work hard in an album so that they can a climatic song like that as the final song on the album. But what if a band just made a record or live performance that  just contained nothing but those “final” songs, like a concept piece?

B: And at the beginning of each song they go “Thank you, this is our last song. Goodnight!”

S: Do you know I was responsible for them not winning Músíktilraunir the year they entered because of the low marks I scored for them?

B: Really, that’s interesting. Wait a second… people, writers, musicians. HAVE YOU BEEN WRONGED IN THE PAST BY SINDRI ELDON? Have you failed to win a major music competition due to his scoring methods? Has your band been torn a new one by one of his reviews and you feel it actively ruined your career? Has he borrowed money of you, never to return it? Would you like to get his contact details so you can send him 200 pizzas? If so then please leave a comment after this review!

THULEBASEN

B: Thulesbasen. Woah!

S: Yeah this is fucking sharp. It’s minimal, a real restraint to their music

B: It’s very minimal, dynamic, dead space between the moments. And that drummer! The way she holds her sticks you think it’s going to be really loose, but the fills are perfect. And the sound was awesome!

S: There’s a lovely cheap delay and reverb on the vocals is actually helping them out a lot. It gives them that cheap lo-fi edge to it…. I don’t know there something really good going on with this band for sure.

B: Coral, a wanky two minute drum solo. We Made God, better, but loads of cymbal use washing with the effects laden guitars. But with Thulebasen each piece hits so clear and powerful, like a bomb going off in your head.

S: The sound is really helping them out with a properly effective distribution of frequency EQ wise. The snare has this frequency, the kick drum has this frequency, and this guitar is that frequency range.  It’s done really well.  And they also have a really nice sense of melody in some songs.

B: The watch word from this year Airwaves, for me anyway, has been dynamism. The very best bands I’ve seen have the ability to change the pace, the tone, the level of attack, and be able to do it clearly, that they also know what the hell they´re doing. Too many bands have done that boring “hold one rhythmic pace at the same level of playing.”

S: And this band is evidence that even if you use simple rhythms and riffs, you can still really effective things with it. Unlike, say Orphic Oxtra, where you feel you have to make it all hyper-complex to get your point across musically.

B: When you compare how they can shift the sound like that so simple and effectively and many times that’s just not thought about by other bands.

S: Exactly. One of the reasons why people so lost their shit over Jakobínarína five years ago was because they really knew how to lay out their sound and frequencies so it felt really urgent and powerful.

B: And now? There are maybe one or two local bands that can do that, but too many just turn the shit up and play it hard and fast, like the bands that have been on before. For Icelandic bands in 2012, your mission is to try and get some fucking dynamism in there please!

S: Word

MAMMÚT

B: Mammút. Not bad at all, some real good rocking music. Still feels a bit of a drop in energy compared to the last act which is a shame really.

S: It’s nice to see that Mammút have shifted to a more original thing that they were going for with their sound, as opposed to the indie rock of their last album which I felt really suited them poorly.

B: They’re definitely the best of the local bands tonight. At some points the synths that they were using had a real cold edge to them like, say, The Cure.

S: And it’s good to see that Mammút are maturing well in their song writing and skipping boring steps in their evolution, instead going for something that offers them a lot more scope and potential with the future music. The funny thing is that they always have potential but they never quite get there.

B: But there’s a lot more attack and energy in their music right now. I actually found my head bobbing a few times to that.

S: I’ll agree to that.

B: And they managed to get an encore out of it as well. The first I’ve seen at Airwaves. But they’re chucking us out now and we need to go somewhere and have another drink. Bakkus?

Everyone: Yeah!



About the Author

Bob Cluness
Bob Cluness
Did you know that Bob Cluness was raised by wolves in a Sanctuary in Finland? And that Billy Connolly is his real dad? That when he was 16, he invented the @ symbol? And that it was actually him who wrote the song "Svefn G- Englar," while on an absinthe binge in Selfoss? Actually neither does he. We keep having to re-programme his brain to ensure that he never finds out the horrible truth. To keep him sedated, we shove him in the corner of the Grapevine offices and feed him raw lamb and I Adapt CDs. We also give him a blog for him to write down his incessant babble. Don't approach him if spotted. Call the police if you do come across him on Laugavegur.




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