Album: Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music?
Label: Ipecac Recordings
Release Date: Oct. 4, 2005
Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars
If you thought Bjork and Sigur Rós were the best things to come out of Iceland you probably haven’t heard Mugison (pronounced Moogie-son).
In fact, Mugison beat out every band in Iceland this year when Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music? won Album of The Year in that country. I had serious doubts before I heard the record, but now that I have heard it, I’m a believer. This record will be somewhere near the top of my “Best of 2005″ list.
Mugison combines beautiful acoustic songwriting ala Sufjan Stevens with super-creative cut and paste artistry a la Beck. The record is a high-quality “bedroom” recording. Meaning it sounds great, but has that airy, lo-fi tinge that makes it immediately likeable to those who despise the slick, over-produced sounds that are now creeping into “Indie” music. Mugimama is immediate, real and heartfelt. The only downside is the album’s inconsistency, the changes in energy and style between tracks can be jarring at times and effectively eliminates the album from fitting a mood. For example, the beautiful piano-based ballad, “What I Would Say In Your Funeral“, which features the angelic voice of Mugison’s girlfriend sits right in front of the funked-out sample festival “Sad As A Truck“. Although both tracks have merit separately, when you listen to them back-to-back in the context of an album, it breaks the mood like fingernails on a blackboard. Maybe that’s what the artist intended, but cohesiveness could have put this album close to 5 stars in my opinion.
If you visit Mugison’s Web site you’ll find entries like:
This is typical of his down-to-earth, instantly likeable personality, which also shines through in his music. You can’t help but be sucked in by his emotionally honest lyrics and creative use of a myriad of instruments and samples.
I am partial to his acoustic numbers, which are all gems to be kept for a lifetime, including: “Murr, Murr“, “What I Would Say in Your Funeral“, “I’d Ask” and “Hold On 2 Happiness“.
“Salt” contains acoustic guitar and orchestral instrumentation. The cellos, violins and woodwinds create a moving and melancholy piece that features the accented speaking voice of his sister reciting a poem about a child being drowned by her mother in the sea. It turns out that she is the reason for the salt in our tears. A haunting and beautiful track.
Also included are a couple “better left on the hard drive” tracks, like the silly “Swing Ding“, which features an adolescent burping voice saying Rock & Roll over and over. It’s an attempt at a comedy break, which is at best, annoying.
Even with the breaks in style and the small amount of “filler”, Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music? left me elated and wanting more, a truly excellent effort from an artist who was not even on my radar screen. Well, he appears on my radar now. In fact, he’s one of the biggest blips presently visible.