Mum The Peel Session [single]

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Rating: 6.0

Mum, a laptop-savvy trio from Iceland, combine twittering idyllic beats and simple, often sinister melodies on their four song Peel Sessions EP. One of a growing group of artists recording with the legendary British producer John Peel, Mum has recorded a pleasant, if not particularly memorable, sampling of their moody electronic experimentalism.

 

With their love of a broad array of sounds—static, sizzles, accordion, spoons being hit together—Mum recalls the twee sound pioneering of British duo Psapp. Yet, seemingly by virtue of their Icelandic heritage, their music has a soaring, epic quality. Particularly on “Now There Is That Fear Again” Mum reveals itself as kin of Sigur Ros.

The members of Mum show off their range in this four-song EP, moving from an ambient light-hearted first half into a nearly funereal second half. “Scratched Bicycle/Smell Memory” builds and deconstructs a thick mish-mosh of jungle beats before “Awake On A Train” turns dreamy and surreal, the ethereal whisper of Mum’s Kristin Anna—who has since left the band—reminiscent of Sigur Ros’ Jon Por Birgisson. Kristin Anna’s vocals become a wailing keen on “Now There Is That Fear Again”, which could be a traditional song of mourning revisited with a backdrop of beats and spiky violin chords. “The Ballad of Broken String” continues in this deliciously, inexplicably sad vein.

Throughout its changes in tone, Mum shuns pop songwriting in favor of simple, repetitive melodies cast over a diverse array of sounds. While such songs are rich in feeling, they also lack any hooks that might compel me to listen to them. The Peel Session EP reads more like the soundtrack for a film than a traditional EP. And with their air of arty experimentalism, this is exactly what Mum is going for.

– Mary Mulholland

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