When the new millennium began, I flew to Paris via San Francisco with the woman who is now my wife; en route we flew over Iceland and the portion I saw looked like the moon. Coincidentally, right when I returned to the states, a coworker who knew I had eclectic tastes in music asked me what I knew about Icelandic punk (she had heard a snippet of something on public radio, but had no idea of my flight). The only thing I knew about Iceland was what I had just seen and some vague recollection from grade school about Leif Erickson. And the only musical artists I knew that hailed from Iceland were the pop group The Sugarcubes from the 80s and, of course, Björk after having left The Sugarcubes. The inquiry set me in motion.
An Internet search led me to the Icelandic label Smekkleysa, and I was introduced to the soundtrack to the film Rokk í Reykjavík. This CD introduced me to all sorts of punks and “wavers” from 1981, including groups that would later converge to become The Sugarcubes and launch Björk into superstardom (e.g., Þeyr, Purrkur Pillnikk, and Tappi Tíkarrass).
Since then, I’ve discovered so many other Icelandic groups from the kings of “krútt,” Sigur Rós—who I saw perform with the LA Philharmonic along with Björk— to contemporary Icelandic hip-hop like Birgir Hákon and Reykjavíkurdætur.
During the COVID-19 shelter in place mandate, Sindri Már Sigfússon’s new album, Sad Party, with songs like “Hollow” have spoken to me, especially when my birthday was spent watching old movies fifteen feet from my new workplace—my dining room table. “When you feel so hollow inside,” is rather apt when you haven’t ruffled the hair of your youngest nephew in three months or eaten your mother-in-law’s cooking. Thank goodness for my patient wife, her baking, and her ability to find unexpectedly wonderful TV programs.
When Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer in the U.S., was spent not having a barbecue or being with friends and family, the track from Sad Party, “No Summer,” rang so true. “Summer never came,” begins the song. Sindri is a prophet, as his album was released last year, but he knew what was coming.
Sin Fang’s new album is quite psychedelic, but still full of expected textured electronica. Plus, the fellow has certainly grown up over the course of a fifth of a century. While nothing will beat “Drunk Song” by Seabear (Singing Arc EP), I think Sad Party is Sindri Már Sigfússon’s greatest achievement, and it is in constant rotation at my house getting me through the strange and sad times of the COVID-19 era.
Sin Fang is on Morr Music and the latter just remastered Múm’s Yesterday Was Dramatic—Today Is OK, which was originally released around the time of my above-mentioned flight. I was going to see Múm at the Fillmore in San Francisco, but was not able to due to COVID-19! Add Múm’s “Random Summer” and Sin Fang’s “No Summer” to your not-so-summertime playlist while you do your best to stay in and stay well during these strange times.
Enjoy the music until we can venture out again.
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