Saturday, December 15, 2012
AMFJ - BÆN
AMFJ - BÆN
Evil Talk. CD.
I’d been thinking for quite some time now about how I’d begin this review. You see AMFJ [or to give him the name his parents gave him Aðalsteinn Jörundsson] is from Iceland and whilst its easy to begin your Icelandic review by mentioning Magnus Magnusson, Bjork and unpronounceable volcanoes that spill ash everywhere I thought I needed something a bit cleverer and then on Friday morning I got. Exiting the house at 6am on route to my daily grind I made it about three steps from the back door when I ended up flat on my face. Black ice in its most lethal form had descended upon West Yorkshire and I was amongst its first victims. Never in all my life have I witnessed such viscous black ice. It seemed to cover every surface, tarmac, cars, walls, cats, grass and me. As I lay sprawled sporting a gashed knee, ripped jeans and dented pride I made various quick mental body checks and ascertained that nothing was broken. I carefully made it to my feet and slid to the car Bambi fashion, still clinging to my bag and what was left of a 2 liter milk bottle that I had filled with hot water so as to defrost the car lock. It was while safely sat in the car with throbbing knee waiting for the windows to clear that I wondered to myself how people who have to live in far worse conditions than these cope. But they do and then they make some noise.
That cold Icelandic weather may go some to explaining why AMFJ’s sound is so bleak and unflinching. Moaning away in his Icelandic tongue to Industrial pummel you get the distinct feeling that he’s at one with the long Icelandic winter nights. The whole thing begins with a babies wail and ends with a mock cathedral organ blast, along the way PE hallmarks are dutifully stamped but crucially, and for me thankfully, the results are a long way away from the days when your average PE release came with compulsory badly photocopied gruesome crime scene/porno shock/serial killer art.
Its the variety of sounds on offer here that are the most welcoming - there are passages [and tracks] where the vocals give way to eerie landscapes of shuffling speaker wobble, low Hertz pulses left to freeze and die on bare Icelandic plains, some tracks morph their way through various phases most effectively on the last track Húsið Andar where a rolling pummel of a beat finds Jörundsson multi tracking his voice so that it sounds like a Franciscan monks evensong backed by Ministry with some Theremin doodling thrown in for good measure.
I find myself leaning towards PE as comparison because as soon as somebody starts ‘singing’ where noise is concerned thats about the only place you can go but this has far more to it than that to warrant such lazy comparison. The title track itself features no vocals but manages to convey bleakness by the bucketful, after treating us to the sound of someone clanging away on some frozen overground gas pipes a TG inspired rhythm takes over, simple but very effective. Opening track Útburður Umskiptingur mutates a babies wail into a seething vortex of wailing noise, second track Öldungur does for Iceland what Mika Vaino did for Finland, a stark pounding beat with Jörundsson singing a Viking lullaby from inside a vast echoing church.
What I find most remarkable is that Jörundsson composed most of this with some free software - PE mutates thanks to something called Buzzmachines - whodathunkit. Comes in a groovy trifold CD wallet too with lots of blurred photos of Jörundsson. He likes moving about a lot, presumably to keep warm.
More AMFJ material is available through Gogoyoko including the first album which on first listen would seem to be more up your death metal street. Long may he mutate.
Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/amfj
Twitter - @A_MF_J
Gogoyoko - http://www.gogoyoko.com/album/Baen
Free software - www.buzzmachines.com