Take a strong drink and have thepainkillers at the ready. This album from one ofIceland’s musical heavyweights will demand that youuse at least one of them!
The invented word, Ghostigital, perfectly sums up this opus from Einar �rn, formerly rapper with Bj�rk‘s old band, The Sugarcubes, whichproves to be an exploration of unusual sounds, utterances and melodies. Be warned though, this is notcomfortable music to play while you’re warming yourtoes in front of the fire…
It’s clear that Einar has beenhanging out with a variety of musicians and has takenin a lot of influences. Several names jumped to mindin the course of this album – Cabaret Voltaire,for the sheer virtuosity of the electronic writing; Tricky, especially on the three tracks whererapper Sensational is employed; and SpringHeel Jack, recent purveyors of bleak yetstimulating, improvised musical pictures.
Having listed all those possible influences it cannot be doubted that �rnpossesses a vivid imagination when it comes toproducing rhythms and soundscapes. Most of Ghostigitalcould be the incidental music to a demonic movie,particularly in the truly disconcerting vocal hissesof Dirty Fly or the screaming electronica sounds thatcome with Mess Up.
The opening track Suicidefeatures the rising trumpet star Kaktus, who you’ll beastonished to hear is just 11 years old! Thirsty Fly is an exercise infractured drum and bass, whilst Drunk Piano is justthat – a sinister piano bar artist gatecrashing ontoindustrial rhythms.
The spectre of The Sugarcubeslooms large, as does Bjork’s Post album, with thebooming bass and mechanical noise of Calm Water No. 35evoking memories of Army Of Me.
�rn conjures someextraordinary sounds in Monday, a seething cauldron ofacidic sounds, rather like a trip to a surrealIcelandic dentist! And then if you think that’s mad,the closing Losing It will finish you off, its crosstempo meaning that it can be interpreted as either avery fast drum and bass record or a moderately slowbeat packed with fill-ins.
Throughout the album there are several levels on whichyou can hear the collage of sounds – if youconcentrate intensely on the background you’ll hearall sorts of vocal snippets and electronic gadgetryused, while in the foreground there’s snatches ofmelody, texture or simply noise to latch on to. Themusic never rests, ploughing relentlessly onwards, andif you’re listening on headphones the effect is evenmore dramatic and, at times, disturbing.
A challenging listen then, whichshould particularly appeal to fans of electronic actssuch as Squarepusher and Autechre. Ofcourse if you grew up with The Sugarcubes it’s acompulsory listen, but the chances are you’d like iteven if you didn’t know who it was.