Ben H. Murray

Icelandic music

Kimi Records summer tour finale – tracksuits rock

This week’s Kimi Records night at NASA in Reykjavik was a storming night of music that could only happen in Iceland. Nowhere else would they jam together Benni Hemm Hemm and Reykjavik!, bands as different as a shot of Opal and a pint of milk, on the same bill and get away with still producing a fitting finale to the label’s summer tour.

Borco were a revelation with their fantastic airy tunes and matching tracksuits (a look sported by the entire tour entourage) and three-piece punk/metal band Mordinjarnir were, as always, full of energy and humour, even though I couldn’t understand much. It’s a pity a few more people didn’t come.

Benni Hemm Hemm

Benni Hemm Hemm


Atomstation…in a car park: Sirkus lives.

Heavy, LA-style rock is big news in Iceland at the moment – bands like Sign and Tommygun Preachers are doing great things at home and abroad which bodes well for the future of Icelandic guitar music. It could be more inventive but who cares when they have the songs and talent to turn your mood from rainy-day blues to California-sunshine happy.

LA-style rock in the middle of the old Sirkus car park, however, is something rarer than ‘big news’ which made Atomstation’s impromptu performance last week a bit special. Their stage was a tent bought from Bonus and crowd was mainly made up of confused tourists (“Gene, why are there hairy men playing loud music in a car park? I thought Iceland was meant to be peaceful…anyway, can you see the Northern Lights yet?” ) and lots of old Sirkus regulars. Atomstation were brilliant and their album, Exile Republic, is one of my favourites so far this year – if it doesn’t win some sort of IMA recognition then it’ll be a surprise.

Even the lead singer had a Tom Selleck ‘tache in honour of the legendary Sirkus Tom Selleck Moustache Competition, but he may have just had it anyway. Nice fuzz though.

They have three live dates in the next few weeks so go see them for yourself.

Reykjavik Nights, London – Friday 16th May

One of Iceland’s most influential musicians, Valgeir Sigurdsson, will be playing in the suitably grand surroundings of St Barnabas in Soho on Friday 16th May. The concert is part of the popular Reykjavik Nights series and is in association with the Bedroom Community record label.

Valgeir has produced, or worked on, all of Bjork’s albums since 1998 which makes him the Icelandic equivalent of George Martin, except that Valgeir’s studio in Iceland is far nicer than the Beatles old basement hang out.

He will be showcasing his new solo album at the gig, which is by all accounts a pretty special piece of work and has attracted excellent reviews from esteemed organs such The Times (4/5). American folk singer Sam Amidon is also playing.

You can buy tickets here for £8 in advance:

And see here for more information:


Blindfold in London this week

Blindfold, Iceland’s prog answer to Radiohead, are playing in London on Wednesday 26th March at 93 Feet East and it promises to be an excellent evening of thoughtful rock music.

They played in Clapham, South London a few weeks ago and left everyone wanting to see some more so lets hope they play a lengthy set packed with some of their famous “long versions”.

Blindfold playing Arch 635.

Minus in London (and other parts of England) – this Thursday

Minus start their hectic UK tour this week with a headline gig at London’s Water Rats. See below for dates or click here for their myspace.

20 Mar 2008 20:00
Monto Water Rats London
21 Mar 2008 20:00
Leadmill Sheffield
22 Mar 2008 20:00
tbc tbc
23 Mar 2008 20:00
King Tuts Glasgow
25 Mar 2008 20:00
Academy 2 Newcastle
26 Mar 2008 20:00
Roadhouse Manchester
27 Mar 2008 20:00
Rock City Nottingham
28 Mar 2008 20:00
Barfly London
4 Apr 2008 22:00
Organ Reykjavik
3 May 2008 20:00
Live Station *Visions Party* Dortmund
4 May 2008 20:00
59:1 Munich
5 May 2008 20:00
Magnet Berlin

podcast – Minus in LA

Minus have been busy, really busy by the looks of it, and they’ve just released a video podcast covering the recording of their new album on the golden shores of California. Although this was recorded some months ago, it’s still pretty interesting to see the band in the studio and the new material, as far as I’m aware, has yet to make an official appearance in the UK.

If you click here (or below) when iTunes is open, it should automatically load the podcast.

They’ve been recording with Joe Barresi who’s something of a legend in the US, having worked with Queens of the Stoneage and Tool, so the new material sounds like it might have a more “polished” side that was maybe lacking in some of their rougher releases. Tool’s 10,000 Days is one of my favourite albums from the past two years so if Joe Barresi has been guiding the band in the same way, it should be worth the wait and then some.

The podcast also covers the recording of the new version of Throwaway Angel, as highlighted in my previous post.

Minus recording

new Minus song online – acoustic version of Throwaway Angel

One of Iceland’s most credible metal bands, Minus (signed to One Little Indian in the UK), are releasing their long-awaited Great Northern Whalekill album on these shores soon and they’ve given Icelandic music mag Monitor a track for us all to enjoy before it appears as the B-side to their first UK single.

The song is an acoustic version of ‘Throwaway Angel’ and you can listen to it here or here,1739,news_bImageLinks.html

The lyric ‘exector of God’s wrath – sit next to me’ scares me a little but I know they’re into deep subjects as whaling, religion and Pantera, thus these interests are reflected in the nature of their excellent recordings.

You can read what The Reykjavik Grapevine thought of the album here.

I hear the band are also touring the UK soon…details to follow as soon as I have them.