It is always nice when you buy a ticket to see one band and find out another you really like is supporting them. Such was the case at last night’s gig in the slightly reconfigured Button Factory where the Scottish electronic duo Conquering Animal Sound were the support to the Icelandic headliners Múm.
CAS opened strongly with ‘The Future Does Not Require’, a single from their current ‘On Floating Bodies’ album: with James behind the table teasing an array of sounds from his various machines and Anneke delivering her vocal, with occasional doubling effects, and adding some noises from her Korg synth. After some introductions from James they started into their second song ‘A Noise Remains’ with both of them crouched over their various devices before Anneke ventured behind the mic to deliver the catchy song hook “move back and back and forth” while James added a little hand percussion.
James dedicated the following song ‘Puskas’ to the Icelandic football team, who were unfortunately losing to Croatia at the time. This new track had some nice recorder looped on it and plenty of layered vocals. As it faded it morphed into the next song which had a feel of The Knife about the vocals, delivered over a beatless backing. Before the last song I got the chance to throw the pair a couple of Tayto Chocolate Bars that I had been discussing with James on Twitter before the gig. Despite a bit of Father Ted inspired banter with the crowd her confirmed afterwards that they liked the cheese & onion chocolate. In reciprocation I can confirm I really enjoyed their set and certainly look forward to hearing more from them in the future, maybe on a return visit to Ireland now they have the taste for it.
I am pretty sure the prior to tonight I had seen Múm play a couple of times before. The first, I think, was in whatever The Academy was called back then (Spirit, HQ?) sometime in the earlier noughties. The last time was definitely in the sadly defunct Tripod back before Christmas 2007. It seems ironic then that my view of their Button Factory performance was somewhat blocked by a photographer with a full-sized tripod. A bit over the top I feel. Anyway I digress, back to the gig.
The five members of Múm came to the stage one by one as a laptop played the basic loop for the track ‘The Land Between Solar Systems’. As each member picked up their instrument they added layers of vocals and music which allowed the track build and build. This process was slowly reversed, as the song faded to nothing, with just the noise of the drummer dropping water into a bowl.
After some introductions and technical difficulties, which they put down to their pet hamster, they started ‘Slow Down’ with lots of strange noise and electronic beats. While Silla played her Bo Diddley shaped guitar her fellow frontwoman Gyða did a skirt-waving dance, which sometimes revealed a little too much upper leg to my prurient eyes. ‘The Colorful Stabwound’ burst into action with some forthright drumming that was accompanied by a couple of guitars and a bass playing as close to a riff as you will get from Múm. ‘A Little Bit, Sometimes’ followed gently with cello and acoustic guitar before moving up in tempo with the addition of bass guitar and melodica.
‘Green Grass of Tunnel’ is probably as close as Múm have to a “hit single” and as it took shape from bells, bass, piano and cello the crowd sang along in recognition. The following song also took shape slowly, this time from the scrapping of strings and cymbals which we overlayed by Gyða’s little girl vocals. The track ended with everyone, including the crowd, whistling, and as dialogue samples were played, the track ‘The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records’ took shape. As it progressed we were treated to more dancing / performance art from Gyða as she repeatedly mimed breaking her down neck and falling over. Odd but strangely entertaining.
Recent single ‘Toothwheels’ followed, starting with a dance beat and electric piano chord before being textured with the addition of cello and guitar. The playful ‘One Smile’ was next filled with cello and melodica. They finished their set with slow and mournful track I didn’t recognise. Icelandic lyrics were delivered over chugging electric guitars, cello and melodica before a frightening blast of drums signalled a build into a short blast of Godspeed-style noise. After taking a bow they disappeared off-stage before finally returning for an encore of ‘The Island Of Children’s Children’ which again slowly took shape form a combination of guitars harmonics and noodling, with the cello being played like a double bass. It ended with Gunnar and Örvar comically striking their guitars together in the air. All told it was an engaging and textured performance with the current band line-up doing justice top their diverse and impressive catalogue.