“Making music has an effect on what you feel and think…(Since I was a kid) I just knew this was definitely something I wanted to do. Now I’m trying to go to the roots (of music) and trying to speak about all of the things I want to feel from music. Having gear and being electronic doesn’t really matter…it just about saying what I feel, and showing what I want to produce”
I met M-Band after his last phenomenal, emotive show, which was his Haust EP release party on Wednesday of last week at Húrra. It was a show that both moved folks and got them moving. We had a quick interview that I’m happy we had, as It’s nice to meet talent that comes off as genuine and fresh. He’s learned as a musician, creative, and also a really nice guy. He attended a music conservatory in Iceland, learning piano. He really grasps chord based structures on the keyboard, leading me to believe he has a grasp of music theory. He clearly has dexterity on the piano, which singles him out in a scene which is all too often sequencer-based, spacebar on/spacebar off in terms of live performance. His analog set up was greatly appreciated, especially its use in conjunction with Ableton. His light show was drenched in strobe – giving the impression he was in a turn of the century Nickelodeon. He is influenced by Hermigervill as well as the major factions in the Icelandic electronic scene, such as the original and evolving Weirdcore RVK. Now on to Haust.
A great release for something that had no defined method of work and took two years to make, and had no
I find M-Band’s cover art as embracing as his music itself. It’s enigmatic, yet welcoming – the Tree of Life spans it’s entirety, reflecting the expression human emotion that seems so clearly apparent in this release.
A collage of devious samples/synth tones begins the album, a foreboding direction at first. A striking chord and singular block rhythm follows. These combinations hint at a focused sadness, a melancholy. Voice soon soothes over the combination, as well as a synth line which elevates and advances. I am somewhat reminded of the brilliant Hans Zimmer Inception soundtrack; progressions and orchestration that is both epic and haunting.
Ever Ending Never
This track dispels any uncertainty as to the direction the artist is willing to take the listener. Ever Ending Never is a danceable, thought-invoking number which in a way combines deep house and coldwave. The timbre of M-Bands voice often reminds me of a mainstream artist, but that artist escapes my memory. It possesses the richness one seeks from a singer, and offers the same distinctiveness as say Hogni Egilsson’s. It fits the mood flawlessly. A tasteful delay drench follows suit – M-Band seems to be quite good at molding and blending one high note into another. Oftentimes a track-long repeated note pattern bores me, but in this case the world revolving around the synth line works.
All Is Love
I will admit to knowing people who have made love to this song. M-Bands lyric/voice pairing in this track almost has an Adrian Belew/Thom Yorke-quality to it, a la King Crimson’s Three of a Perfect Pair or Radiohead’s King of Limbs albums. It also features a similar sonic texture set as those albums in terms of its drum loops. The voice is slightly too low in the mix for my taste – I want to know what he is saying, as he is saying it so well. It’s clear that a lot of thought into the complexity of M-Band’s vocal melodies – there are many different notes and modulations of the voice apparent in this work.The synth line is unobtrusive, and builds up the emotion I want to hear in electronic music; a genre which is too often plagued with sterile and bland melodies.
I can almost feel the rhythm scratching at my head – unlike The King of Limbs, the selection of drums has an organic quality. It’s not an obvious Ableton preset. Hendrix often talked about starting an electric church – it’s becoming more and more apparent that in that pursuit, M-Band would have been an excellent minister. The delays are excellently timed and organized. I can’t imagine how much time he spent preparing them with VSTs.
When The Night Falls
I love track segues. This track starts with knives attacking me in my head. I visualize Earth in 2200…I visualize Reykjavík under a glacier one hundred meters high. The song takes a turn towards the mechanical. Delays create a haunting, cavernous feeling. The sub bass creates a thematic texture which really gives the track an epic, story like quality. Lyrically, the track is bright, creative and clear.
Psalms Of The Mushroom War
I grasped at M-Band’s voice phasing on this track like one would approach a Gregorian choirs. A subtle beat immerses the listener. One is struck by the thoughtfulness of his lyrics. There is heart and soul in what he says. His voice is powerful enough to actually be at the forefront – instead of hidden in the mix behind a wall of reverb or delay. He clearly understands how to formulate chord progressions of interest to the listener. When effects are used, they are used to complement – rather than crutch his voice. A clear sign of confidence with his apparent talent.
The guitar phrasing is cleverly enigmatic – and doesn’t hint at convention or rely on the backbeat the forward the track. It hints at musical learnedness – advanced study, technique understood. The bassline never overpowers. Having seen him play before, I am fully aware that he is capable of producing these complex passages.
Six minutes into this track and I still haven’t lost interest. The subtlety of the bass line’s modulation hints at details of this work beyond a first impression. There is close attention paid to the timbre of drums – their compression, and their selection, in general. An indiscernible instrument is being played deep within the mix, perhaps an alto saxophone.
The word “ethereal” is often implied with most ambient electronica – but in this case it’s rightly deserved. M-Band is clearly not aiming for David Guetta accessibility.
M-Band – Haust
The title track begins. I hear the ruffling of staccato strings, or perhaps a African finger piano. the Hand claps sound authentic – unprocessed. The vocals segue with the keys in glorious spectacle. This track would make an excellent single. It sounds the way natural ecstasy feels. It uplifts in intensity. M-Band’s voice comes in at exactly the right moment. A simple bass drum pattern hides underneath, before the track subsumes into a wall of modulated delay effects. It explodes in the end with filter, cutoff and attack.
M-Band – Coda
Normally when an album features a song named “Coda” it’s astonishingly pretentious, or one of King Crimson’s deeper regrets. Thankfully this is not the case here. After some off-beat piano phrases, listenable harmonies are found, with perhaps a taste of E-bowed Bass. As an amateur E-bow player, it’s nice to hear someone play it who embraces it’s idiosyncrasies – the harmonic accidentals, the slight misalignment of the magnet with the strings, the metallic buzzes. The album ends with a sharp, calm, almost Enoesque ambient phrase. There is resolution, but also a deep desire for more.
In the end, M-Band says and plays a great deal on Haust without saying and playing more than he should. What a winner.
– Chris Sea