Grapevine Airwaves 2012

November 2, 2012

Harpa’s Metal Night: Considerable Damage To Structures

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Music Overview

  • Artists: The Heavy Experience, Skálmöld, Sólstafir, HAM, Mugison
  • Venue:  Harpa Norðurljós
  • Time:  Thursday, 1 November 2012 (All Saint's Day)
  • The Good:  Mugison saved the day.
  • The Bad:  The Swans were buffeted by hurricane winds.
  • Reviewed by: a.rawlings
  • Photo: HAM by Magnús Elvar Jónsson

For your review-reading accompaniment: field audio recording of the wind storm currently unleashing holy hell on this wee island nation.

From the darkened gates of waning gloom, we were summoned. From the wind-frozen terrorface of a Greenlandic glacial shitstorm,* we were summoned. Overhead swirled the toxic hell-wishings of the Northern gods and we were summoned to thrash, to dance!, to witness the unfolding of the condemned.

 

The Heavy Experience by Birta Rán

The Heavy Experience: you droned us into jazzcore dimensional tension; such deliberate slowness only the swamp lords of Naraka could do better. Conscientious adherence to precision has won you a coveted afterlife throne. The Heavy Experience, you hypnotized via oscillations between vicious yet tender drummer Oddur Júlíusson and your black sax-turned-oildrenched-bloodslicked-death-horn-of-Gondor player Tumi Árnason. We came to witness the might of your Slowscope, and you delivered as we writhed in the bath of your luxuriant troubled tones.

Skálmöld by Ægir Freyr Birgisson

And so: Skálmöld. You brought us Icelandic rímur and skaldic poetry threshed by showpony metal; bless you! As you sacrificed your instruments to the unholy demons of metal, your smiles bordered on maniacal. Viking-metal virtuosity: metal-voice duets, an army of string, choral chant, rapidity, headbangery. Hilariterrifying. And did we say metal?

 

Sólstafir by Birta Rán

Sólstafir, your coming was foretold when lead singer/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason appeared onstage to howl a Skálmöld verse.

Sólstafir, you are moody yet electric as though crystal-lit and powered down from the sun overheard. We drank deeply from your elixir and became soul-committed to your sound. When you played “Fjara,” a third of us vaporized straight into the hellmouth of ecstacy. You’re a mainstreamed mainline of hard but not hurried torture and lament. Smitten demon-kittens.

HAM with your gift of driving rhythm as though we’d walked for days in a Cormac McCarthy novel through the highlands drenched by a piss-yellow sun. HAM with your Bela-Lugosi-in-vocal-folds baritone opera vibrato. HAM with the most lived-in metal gurgle existent — the kind where something foul has planted itself in the singer’s bowels and has festered for more than a decade. HAM, we mean this in the best possible way: you’re resurrected to reverse the damage done by this superficial commodity-addicted society. Sing us your bloody lullabies of friendship… and hate!… through two-toned warning alarm and carpal-tunnel-causing repetition. “Can we make the connections? Can we hear the crisis of society in the crisis of music?”* To these Jacques Attari musings, you respond, “You are HAM. We are also HAM.”

Arnar Gíslason drumming for Mugison by Magnús Elvar Jónsson

Now, drummers. All sordid night, your controlled fever led us slavish. And yet you elude us in depths of stage. Until now: until Mugison. Drumkit? Stage left.

And so, Mugison: your bluesy rumba, your sexy sultry play. Concert, change us. Actualize our metamorphoses to the bloody citizens of tomorrow. The metal drive of a thousand skeletal horse-hounds culminated in the momentary drum-slip, vocal shred, or synth thrash of Mugison’s set. Witnesses chanted in unison: “Ég er blóð; ég er blóm.” Mugison, we trust you with our souls; you are the consummate professional who is present and generous through every moment of your show — even if it is an impromptu headlining request. Mugison, your fans have multiplied. They know every lyric and they sing it boastfully at your behest, on your behalf. We sing your “Aldrei fór ég suður” anthem. Mugison, the world sways with your fan-zombies as we lurch into late-night rok and ofsaveður.

Mugison by Birta Rán

From the Icelandic wind, the wind, the wind: we were summoned. And into the wind, we are driven until the sound fills our guts with sick.

 

*cleverly coined meteorological phenomenon observed by GV editor-in-chief Haukur Magnússon

* quoted from Jacques Attali’s Noise: The Political Economy of Music

* with thanks for Jón Þór (Mugison’s “brother”), who kindly explained to the uninitiated (aka me) the significance of lusty group sing-along to this song



About the Author

a.rawlings
a.rawlings
a.rawlings is a poet, arts educator, and interdisciplinary artist who has published and performed work in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, and the United States. Her first book, Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Coach House Books, 2006) received an Alcuin Award for Design. In 2009 and 2010, rawlings was the recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, enabling her to develop and present new work in Belgium, Canada, and Iceland. Most recently, she was selected the 2012 Queensland Poet-in-Residence; during her tenure, she spent three months in Australia developing an interdisciplinary project that combines poetry, acoustic ecology, and counter-mapping. She loves in Reykjavík.




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