on 12 April 2004
Just when we thought we had survived the emotional impact of "()" by Sigur Rós, fellow Icelandic quartet Múm return with a masterpiece of an album, "Summer Make Good" - an amazingly beautiful record soaked up in Icelandic soul, sadness and fragility. It's hard to single out a track here - as a matter of fact, the album flows so effortlessly that it feels like an extended late night lullaby. Truly indispensable.
on 25 May 2004
This limited edition copy of "Summer Make Good" comes with a 32-page hard-bound book with original art and writings made by the members of múm. The edition is supposed to be limited to 5000 copies worldwide. I don't think amazon uk will get as many as they have pre orders for currently (3000+).
The standard album is amazing, drawing out very deep emotions and vibrating to a crescendo which is difficult to describe. At times, it feels more folky than previous albums, but definitely feels like múm. The interlude-type tracks are more emotional and inspiring than those of Finally We Are No One. In the later tracks, it kind of seems as though they're aimlessly dabling around. However, at first I felt the same way about Finally..., then after growing into the early tracks, I came to love the depth of the later tracks, and even prefering them.
Hopefully I'll be lucky enough to acquire this limited edition version. (4.5 Stars)
on 3 August 2005
With its slow building ambience, old world influences pillaging a list of bizarre and ancient instruments too numerous to mention, and frail vocals, Múm has produced a truly zen CD. As epic as it is fragile, there's a touch of spaghetti-western-final-gun-battle score, over the top but in their own nice way quality to almost every track but cut with an Amelie softness. Most people's enjoyment of this band will no doubt depend on what effect the lead vocals have subjectively. To some, she may sound like a broken-winged angel pleading for God's help in line with a same Bjork dealing with Beth Gibbons' emotions, but to others she may just be a little too Elmo or Robin, Kermit's nephew, to break through to a new plane of depression and wonder. Or she could be both and that's why you like it. It's a musical yin and yang.
on 8 May 2004
Summer Make Good by Icelandic trio Múm offers the listener a wonderful assault on the senses. From the very beginning of the album one is cast into an audio bliss of etheral sound effects and melodies. The album offers relaxation and innovation that is often lacking in contemporary music.
It is unfortunate then, that the album's sheer beauty is what ultimately lets it down. Often, one finds that the songs simply drift and lack any obvious structure to them. This may appeal to some listeners but I found the experience somewhat hard to get into. The album is rather short as well, clocking in at just under forty seven minutes.
Summer Make Good is a wonderful experience and I don't want to put people off, I just feel the songs could have had more structure and the album a little more length. Regardless of these niggles, SMG is highly recommended.
on 27 April 2004
Quite different from their last album, and in my opinion, better. All ofthe tracks flow like a long ode, or symphony, to an Icelandic evening inMarch. None of the tracks feel like "filler," as they did on "Finally WeAre No One." The female vocals are synthesized differently too. Instead ofsounding like children singing, this time around they sound like mermaidstrying to lure us out to sea. At first upon popping the CD in, I panicked.It was so different. But after three tracks, my mind understood what thisalbum was about, and I suddenly found myself completely immersed in themultitude of minutia that makes up every Mum track. By my second listen,this became my favorite album so far this year. Definitely worth adding toone's collection -- more so than their last one, which was great too!
Imagine a snowy, ice-crusted clearing, with the clear cold moon shining down on it. Now imagine a bunch of ghosts and otherworldly sprites creeping into the clearing, and singing like ominous children.
That about describes the wintry sound of "Summer Make Good," which tries out a very different sound for Icelandic band Múm -- more ambient, more vocal, and more melodic than electronic. Basically, the band sounds like the slightly creepy little sister of Sigur Ros... not that that's a bad thing at all.
It opens with "Hú Hviss - A Ship," which is pretty skippable -- it's basically a spooky horn and various creakings. But fortunately that moves into "Nightly Cares," a lullabyesque ballad with soft, ghostly vocals, and the icy, meandering electronica of "The Ghosts You Draw on My Back."
From there on, Mum noodle through expanses of ice, night, spaciness and static, with gently wandering melodies topped with electronic glitches. They dabble in more typical pop music in the crystalline "Island of Children's Child", but always slip back into music that sounds airy and creepy, with a sweep of electronica keeping the ambience grounded. And this one has an additional song -- the eerie, synth-edged "Abandoned Ship Bells," which is more of the same.
This is not an album to be comfortable to. Listen to it while you sleep, and you'll have dreams about being lost in the snow. Instead it's a long experiment, with vocals in all of their songs, and a more ambient, dreamlike sound that is usually associated with Sigur Ros.
It's very different from their previous work, but only occasionally does it fail to be good. The instrumentation is simply stunning and very creepy -- there's mellotron, synth, and soft drums and guitars gently wafting in and out. I never knew a banjo could sound so incredibly weird. The only weakness of this album is that in some of the shorter songs ("Away," for example) Mum sounds like they were just noodling for the sake of noodling.
This album is also notable for having vocals in pretty much all of the songs, save a few. I'm not sure who is singing, but it sounds like a ghostly little girl, or perhaps a wistful sprite. "... plays a sad old song/I hope tonight/You will touch my hair/and draw ghosts on my back," she croons over stretches of winding synth.
"Summer Make Good" is meant to be an experiment, and if its goal is to be wintry, sleepy and compelling, then it was a success. Just don't look for Mum's "usual" sound in this.
Two years on from the stellar Finally We Are No One, Múm return with yet another delicate slice of oblique electronica. Now a trio, following the departure of Gyða Valtýsdóttir, the band continue to explore the sonic landscapes they have made theirs with previous releases and dig deeper into the emotional soil of their melancholic compositions.
Originally the project of long term friends Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason following years lost in the wilderness of Icelandic indie rock bands, the pair recruited classically-trained twin sisters Kristin Anna and Gyða Valtýsdóttir to add vocal textures and additional instrumentation on what was to become the band's first album, Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK. Mixing electronic elements with live instrumentation, the album, released on Reykjavik's TMT Entertainment, captured the imagination of many, thanks to its delicate sonic touches, ethereal melodies and child-like vocals. If the band's sound could loosely be associated with that of Boards Of Canada or Isan, the unique nature of Múm's work put them apart from the electronic pack. The album was followed by two remix projects, one published on TMT, with contributions from µ-ziq and Ruxpin, and the other, featuring reworked versions from Christian Klein, Phonem and Isan, on Berlin-based Morr Music. Their second album, Finally We Are No One, saw the band further establish their distinctive sound on the international music scene.
After a year of intense touring and months of gestation, Múm, minus Gyða who left to pursue her passion for Art, return with Summer Make Good, their most accomplished record to date. Remaining firmly into melancholic territories, this album sees the band experimenting with recording techniques further as they abandon the comfort of modern technology to explore the possibilities of vintage amplifiers and analogue tapes. This results in sounds being more grainy, rougher, and organic, bringing the human aspect of their music right to the front. Kristin now being the sole vocalist means that more linear vocal forms have replaced the duality trait of the band's earlier work. Yet, the same elements of innocence are to be found all over Summer Make Good. Her voice, isolated against the music, appears increasingly fragile, pushed to breaking point at more than one occasion, the melodies appearing more scarce and sketched, more natural and poignant. This could drive any other record down to the ground, but it actually works surprisingly in the band's favour here as it transcends the mood of each song as much as it is part of them. The result is a superbly crafted album where every shard, every defect, gives more body to the whole work.
Summer Make Good reflects in many ways the arid landscapes of the band's native country, but similarly evokes the warmth of a good winter fire in the chimney. This album, like its predecessors, doesn't open easily, but when it finally does, it unveils unsuspected riches, myriads of details that seem almost too much to take all in at once. And that's perhaps the key to Múm's work. However much one listens to their records, one can never fully grasp them entirely as they retain an element of mystery. Summer Make Good is no exception, constantly unveiling new facets of its complex character without ever giving the game away.
on 23 April 2004
Well, if you read the review avaiables will find out how the press hatedthis album. From Pitchforkmedia to Rolling Stone (don't really know ifthis magazine reviewd Múm) we can't trust. They all say the vocals hereare horrible, child like and disturbing. So, idiots, what you expected? Apop singer, mild and harmonic lyrics? Dears, I understood this album as anight piece, múm goes on prozac. The vocals are perfect for the goal. Youcan hear the breathes before the actual singing, think of a depressivemother singing to her unfortuned son. The untuned vocals aren't a mistake,or lack of good taste. NO! It is intended that way. If you have anyproblems facing this, go check "Pet Sounds" and stay in the 60's.
Guitars, bass and some eletronic toys delivers the best mixandmelt ofelements. Can you tell wich note is eletronic, wich is recorded directlyfrom the instrument? Listen on headphones. I am sure you'll not like it.But then, listen to it again, and over and over... each time the beautygrows and let itself be visible. That's true beauty, full of mistery anddark paths.
on 7 May 2004
I have to agree with the previous reviewer - it really is beautiful stuff. It takes a few listens to appreciate the depth of the music as there is so much going on. I was pleased that they did not repeat themeselves by making more of the same - what they seem to have done is create a more organic sounding album relying less on computers. The mood is a little darker than the previous album and there are plenty of atmospheric sounds to enjoy. It's not that they've completely reinvented themselves but rather that they have taken their sound into a new area. If you liked the last album, you'll probably like this although it may take a little longer to get into the music - but don't let that put you off because it really is something special.
on 11 May 2004
The name of Múm’s latest album, SUMMER MAKE GOOD, is really an excerpt from the title of one of the tracks on the record, “Will Summer Make Good for All Our Sins?” The members of the band, then, have chosen to label their work not with a noun, nor with an adjective, and not even with a full length description of something, but rather with three words which are either a question or, if they are to be regarded as self-standing, a plea. In my opinion they have done so quite suitably, for the record has none of the assertiveness, none of the straightforward clarity that a descriptive title would normally suggest. Instead, it bears all the lyric qualities that such a dubitative form entails, the charm of something too oblique to be fully grasped, something which, on the contrary, by virtue of its obliqueness takes one on a journey in the mists of the unconscious.
Saying the music on SUMMER MAKE GOOD is lyric/oblique/unassertive in the way I am using these words here doesn’t mean that it lacks potency. Indeed, the record is quite energetic, and more percussive by far than FINALLY WE ARE NO ONE. Some tracks are so dynamic that I am tempted to define them as “pagan,” in the same way Stravinsky’s RITE OF SPRING often is. Some songs suggest an uproar is going on, as if an unknown but definitely wild force were trying to break in. The point, though, is that the music suggests an uproar is going on next door, that a wild force is trying to break into the place where one is from somewhere else. The childlike/soft-spoken singing style, the fact it is often hard to discern exactly how many people are humming along, the syncopated rhythm of the percussions, the frequent interference of unexpected chirps, the varying/irregular source of the music all convey a sense that the sounds are somehow seeping in through the walls or dripping in from the ceiling, or that they are being listened to through a pipeline.
I believe it is this characteristic that gives the songs on SUMMER MAKE GOOD its unique and almost ineffable quality. It certainly makes it hard for one to decipher the mood of each piece, as if there were a secretiveness about it, or better yet an underlying duplicity. Is the singing soft-spoken after all? Or is it muffled, perhaps even choked? The melodies are extremely gentle, but at the same time there seems to be something rather diabolic about them. Their sweetness isn’t entirely convincing. With a few exceptions (most notably track 7), the serenity they convey on a superficial level is more the result of sensorial disorientation than of harmony. Like the deep but unhealthy sleep of the paranoid.
The metaphors I have been using extensively thus far to describe the music on SUMMER MAKE GOOD should not be intended merely as linguistic back-flips, as if I were relying on imagery simply to satisfy my own like of descriptive acrobatics. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Indeed, I find a strictly musical analysis alone would fail to account for the record’s strong visual/cinematic character. Incidentally, let’s not forget that Gunnar Örn Tynes of Múm is known to be very keen on the cinema and has stated repeatedly that he would love to compose soundtracks for films. Therefore, while specific analogies between their album and a given movie are most likely the result of one’s own projections, they remain a reasonable (albeit tentative) means of approaching their sound. If SUMMER MAKE GOOD were a movie, then, in my opinion it would have to be ROSEMARY’S BABY by Polanski. Certainly, there are at least two instances in which the resemblance not only with the overall mood of that film but also with Mia Farrow’s actual singing in it is striking. If one listens closely to track 11, “Will Summer Make Good for All Our Sins?”, with that movie in mind, one quickly comes to recognize Mia Farrow’s delicate and yet rather wicked rendering of a lullaby at the end of the film. It appears, if I may say so, that Rosemary Woodhouse has moved to a new neighbourhood, finding little peace there too.