If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to spend half your year in total darkness (and then unending sunlight), the musical offerings of the Iceland Airwaves CMJ Showcase painted a pretty convincing picture. Unhinged, experimental noise from the school of Björk, Levis jeans thrash rock, and a melodic post-punk sendup presented different takes on the same powerful sense of trance-like possession.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was skeptical walking into the middle of dj. flugvél og geimskip’s set. But what initially sounded to me like unconvincing basement-studio tinkering gave way to a pretty refreshing noise performance with a discernible thread. That every song began with an elaborate premise was half the fun: “I feel we should go as deep into space as we can,” she said before creating an echo chamber punctuated by lasers and smoke. Later, “This is a song about a slave who plays drums for a king. But the king never says he’s good. He says, ‘Keep drumming for the next 100 days. With no food.'”
Fufanu took the trance state from “playful” to “pure angst,” but this was for the adult in all of us. There was definitely a clean aesthetic to be picked out among the grungy, psychedelic heaviness, so it’s probably not surprising that the band started out as a techno project.
Mammút was a “holy shit” moment more than worth sticking around for. If the raw, emotional candor didn’t make you slightly uncomfortable, you were probably audiencing all wrong. There was definitely no half-assing the urgency of the music, and vocalist Kata Mogenson covered a startling range of yelps, breathy intonations, and tonsil-shredding screams (yeah girl, we’d be sweaty too).