Last night at the Bowery Ballroom, I saw an amazing little electronic band from Iceland called Múm, not to be confused with Austrian drum ‘n bass band Mum, which is completely unlike their Icelandic counterparts. They were absolutely mesmerizing. I haven’t ever heard anything like it before.
The best way to try and give you a sense of their music is to say that listening to Múm is to your ears, what watching Amélie is to the eyes. It is haunting without being depressing, grandiose without being inaccessible, gorgeous without being overly beautiful. Closing your eyes you could easily imagine yourself on another planet. Sweeping layers of sound that lie on top of each other, beneath electronic clicks of a synthesizer. It’s like hearing a video game from your youth played by an orchestra.
(Hey that’s a great idea in and of itself!)
From listening to their two albums [Yesterday Was Dramatic — Today Is OK and Finally We Are No One] you might miss the fact that Múm actually play most of their music with conventional very low tech instruments. Until I saw the lead singer pull her accordion on for a song, I hadn’t realized that the sounds I had been hearing on the album were in fact an accordion; it was the same for the viola, xylophone, keyboard, guitar, bass guitar, trumpet, drums, and mouth harp. The only thing I was expecting, and did see, was a Powerbook pleasantly whirring away making the distinctive clicks, tocks, beeps, dots, and other synthetic sounds to accompany the live band.
It was a wonderful show that captured every aspect of the album, except that I found the live show to be even warmer and more human than their album. It was a terrific experience to see the stage come alive with performers who were switching instruments every song to achieve the full effect of each sound.
If you see Múm coming to a venue near you, I urge you to see them. It will definitely be an experience you will remember fondly.