Múm – Dusk Log EP

Dusk Log EP

Despite having put three full albums on the shelves since forming in 1997, Iceland’s Múm is still as misunderstood as ever. Journalists have been all too persistent in making lazy localised comparisons to Iceland’s less-than-large musical aristocracy; specifically to Björk (simply because Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir’s tiny elfin voice bares a passing resemblance) and to Sigur Rós (despite the fact Múm is a strictly guitar-less enterprise). In some ways, though, it’s understandable; Múm’s sonic enigma code is hard to unravel into easy definitions. It’s a situation made doubly difficult by the complexity and density of the group’s albums to date, namely 2000’s Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today is Okay, 2002’s Finally We are No One, and this year’s Summer Make Good. Múm simply doesn’t let you in quickly or easily, which is why this writer’s copies of the latter two long-players remain appreciated yet rarely played while the two single release representatives – the simply gorgeous “Green Grass of Tunnel” and the spooky “Nightly Cares,” respectively – receive regular spins. To whit, Múm’s music is at its most loveable – and almost understandable – in short-bursts, as this sublime four-track set shows commendably.

Opening with the remarkably upbeat instrumental “Kustrin” (one of three brand new non-album tracks), we discover that Múm’s musical palette possesses a previously unheard epic reach. With balmy synths, a tidal movement of live-sounding drums, and heavily treated brass and string sounds, it’s not the bucolic-digital sound usually associated with Múm but the retro-futuristic sweep of Broadcast and the vibrant percussive drive of Four Tet and Tortoise. Volumes and tempos slip way back down from the red for the subsequent “This Nothing in the Faraway” – with Kristín back in the vocal booth – that recalls the glistening gliding beauty of the aforementioned “Green Grass of Tunnel.” Three tracks in, and the (almost) title-track from the current album, “Will the Summer Make Good for All of Our Sins,” gets a well-sequenced re-airing with its eerie Eastern Europe orchestration, sampled wildlife noise, and another divine vocal from Kristín. To close things off subtly is the sweet – and aptly named – “Boots of Fog”; a slow drifting collage of twittering synths, distant bass, arcane accordions, ghostly vocals, and weird percussion.

Whether Dusk Log does truly decipher Múm’s diffident but highly effective muse is unclear, but it certainly allows a greater freedom to roam inside the band’s well-protected corner of the musical world than on any previous release by the band. That’s something for which this passing-admirer is genuinely grateful. Hugely recommended to fans as well as to the unacquainted.