Music

Múm: Finally We Are No One

Jeremy Schneyer

Mainly the quartet makes the kind of music that you might expect fairies to make.


Múm

Finally We Are No One

Label: Fat Cat
US Release Date: 2002-05-28
UK Release Date: 2002-05-20
Amazon
iTunes

The music of Icelandic four-piece Mum presents an interesting paradox -- how to describe music that was created mostly electronically, but nonetheless, sounds so damned organic? The adjectives that I would use to describe Mum are perilously close to the ones I would use to describe, say, a refreshing mountain stream: burbling, playful, calming, beautiful.

After a debut, Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK, that sent many critics into paroxysms of delight, Mum are poised to win over legions of new fans with this, their second proper full-length (not counting 2001's Please Smile My Noise Bleed, which was a remix LP), and first that has received proper stateside release and distribution. While the hardcore IDM-heads that drooled all over themselves in praise of the imaginative and innovative sounds that the group presented on their debut might be disappointed by Finally We Are No One's more straightforward song structures, it's doubtful that anyone else will be. While I'll grant that their debut might have been a slightly more interesting record, I have no doubt that I'll be listening to this one a lot more often.

I should probably own up to something up front here: I'm not a big fan of electronic music. While some of my friends flip their wigs over Autechre and Oval, the stuff, for the most part, bores me to tears. While I won't go so far as to describe myself as a "pop purist", I will admit that I'm pretty much lost in a piece of music without some kind of melody, rhythm and words to latch onto. Given these predelictions, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Mum's debut -- while it's not something I would sit down and listen to carefully all the way through, I did find it much more musical and enjoyable than pretty much any other glitchy electronica I'd ever heard, with the possible exception of some Mouse on Mars stuff. So, when I heard that the new Mum record was meant to be more "song oriented", with a greater emphasis on vocals, I thought "hey, this could be really good".

And, well, it is. For the most part. Predictably, the songs I gravitate towards most are the songs that feature the childlike vocals of one or both of the Valtysdottir twins (whom you might know as the cover models for Belle & Sebastian's Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant), such as the luminous "Green Grass of Tunnel". However, some of the purely instrumental tunes have extremely engaging, hooky melodies as well, such as "Don't Be Afraid, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed".

Mainly the quartet makes the kind of music that you might expect fairies to make. The chirpy, dreamlike "We Have a Map of the Plane" and the swooning, almost Cocteau Twins-ish "Now There's That Fear Again" highlight this tendency quite nicely. This tendency can make the record slightly disorienting, but only in the best sense -- think of it as the aural equivalent to laughing gas.

While the record sustains interest throughout its first half, it does begin to lag towards the end, with a few songs coming and going in a haze of pleasant blips and gurgles without really making much of an impression. Likewise, the 11-minute closer, "The Land Between Solar Systems" starts out like many other tracks on the record, as likeable as can be, but simply outstays its welcome.

However, it's safe to say that you won't hear anything else this year that sounds quite like Finally We Are No One. Mum's blend of glitchy beats, found sounds, childlike vocals, and impressive melodic sense is, to me, pretty damn unique, and is certainly worth checking out. While some of the songs have the tendency to lapse into rather uninteresting ambient drones (such as "K/Half Noise", which goes on for three or four minutes too long), these parts are never less than pleasant, and the worst you can say of them is that they don't really grab one's attention. However, Finally We Are No One boasts more than its fair share of very attention-grabbing moments, which makes it very easy to forgive them these occasional lapses.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image