“Múm quietly, irresistibly, inhabits a no-band’s land between the ancient and imminent, the organic and electronic, the head and feet.” —Rolling Stone
With its murmured vocals, eccentric beats, and dreamy effects, the Icelandic folktronica collective Múm (pronounced “moom”) comes to the Walker Art Center for its first Minnesota appearance in seven years to create a sonic netherworld where the ethereal joins the electronic. The seven-member Múm achieves its idiosyncratic sound—a glistening chamber pop that is equally eclectic, charming, and mesmerizing—by employing “a melodica, a harmonium, and two PowerBooks, piling sweet textures onto modernist crackles, like Belle and Sebastian at play in a Mac store” (New York Times). Opening the evening is Sin Fang Bous, which features members of Múm and Sindri Már Sigfússon of the Icelandic band Seabear. Múm and Sin Fang Bous perform on Thursday, October 29, at 8 pm in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Copresented with the Cedar Cultural Center.
Múm was created in 1997 by original members Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason. Originally a duo, the band has expanded and contracted over the years and has been formed by 15 to 20 people along the way. Their first release was a split 10” with the girl-band Spúnk in the summer of 1998. They were joined a year later by twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir and released two albums as a quartet. Following a number of collaborative projects, the group’s celebrated debut album Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK (reissued by Morr Music in October 2005) gained a wealth of glowing press and widespread praise. A remix project, Please Smile My Noise Bleed (Morr Music), was released in November 2001.
In 2002, after the FatCat Records release of Finally We Are No One and an extensive first world tour, Gyða left the band to return to her studies in Reykjavík. Shortly after, third sister Ásthildur Valtýsdóttir joined for singing duties temporarily and Serena Tideman replaced Gyda on cello, for a single European tour. The band’s third album, Summer Make Good, was released in May 2004, flanked by two singles, Nightly Cares and Dusk Log. By then the ensemble had evolved to include Eiríkur Ólafsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir (who had made guest appearances on Múm recordings from the beginning), and Ólöf Arnalds. In early 2006, Kristín left the band following an extensive tour for Summer Make Good.
The start of 2006 saw the band’s creativity blossom once again, starting with two remixes for Goldfrapp of the tracks Number One and Never Know. They followed this with two legendary DJ sets at the FatCat Festival in Belgium in February and SXSW in Austin, TX. A revamped live show combined decks, effects, laptops, toy microphones, old cassette player recordings and vocals, coupled with original recorded material, strange electronic covers by friends, gypsy folk music, and general craziness on stage. They were subsequently invited to DJ at Summer Sonic Festival in Japan as well as headline as DJs in Radio 1’s Rob Da Bank tent at Bestival on the Isle of Wight. In September 2007 Múm released Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, which would be the band’s last release for the FatCat label.
Among Múm’s projects is its soundtrack for the classic Sergei Eisenstein film Battleship Potemkin, live performances of which have taken place in Hafnafjordur in Iceland, the Brooklyn Lyceum in New York, and at Spain’s distinguished Gijon Film Festival. Múm has composed for theater, most notably for two radio theater plays, Svefnhjólið (Sleeping Wheel) by Gyrdir Eliasson, which won the Nordic Radio-Theater Prize, and in 2008 Augu þín sáu mi (Your eyes saw me) by poet Sjón, with whom Múm also worked with in 1999 on the operetta Kisa (Cat). In 2005 they were invited to Amsterdam by the Holland Festival to collaborate with the National Dutch Chamber Orchestra in creating a performance piece based on various compositions of the late avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis for one of the centerpiece shows at the festival.
Múm recently released its fifth studio album, Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know, which is currently being supported by an extensive world tour. The collective now consists of founding members Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason and a touring and recording lineup including Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson (trumpet/piano/ keyboards), Hildur Guðnadóttir (cello/vocals), Sigurlaug Gísladóttir (vocals/ukulele/various), Róbert Reynisson (guitars/ukuleles), and Finlander, Samuli Kosminen (drums/percussion). The ensemble expands even further at times to include Ólöf Arnalds, Högni Egilsson, Ólafur Björn Ólafsson and Guðbjörg Hlín Guðmundsdóttir as well as a never-ending family of friends and musicians who may join spontaneously.
Sin Fang Bous is a project by Sindri Már Sigfússon from Iceland, who also founded the band Seabear. While Seabear’s main focus is folk-based music, Sin Fang Bous is Sigfússon’s playground for his more experimental songs. His debut album was released on Morr Music in 2008.
Tickets to Múm and Sin Fang Bous are $18 ($15 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600. The Balcony Bar will be open at 7 pm and after the performance.