Mum, Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is Ok

Ian Gittins

By Ian Gittins

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Gunnar Örn Tynes, Örvar Póreyjarson Smárason and twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtysdóttir were all still teenagers when they recorded Múm's 2000 debut Yesterday Was Dramatic — Today Is OK, and the record is shot through with the insurrectionary ambition and extremism of youth. Seduced by the kicking-against-the-pricks obscurantism of Aphex Twin, Smárason dispatched his guitar (figuratively speaking) into the nearest geyser and embraced the world of left-field, serrated and abstracted electronica.

Icelanders craft precocious debut.

Nothing happens on Yesterday Was Dramatic — Today Is OK, and it happens often and repetitively. This is glacial, petrified glitch-pop that hums gently to itself as it describes vast, never-closing circles. Many tracks are little more than an Autechre-like repetition of clicks and closures, distorted broadcasts of twitch and static through which an analogue ad lib will suddenly emerge with agenda-shifting clarity.

Múm's minimal-is-maximal ethos reaps rewards, but not everything works: "Asleep on a Train" strives for ghosts-in-the-machine mysticism but merely sounds like a particularly cranky malfunctioning machine, and they are truly transcendent only when the twins'treated, syncopated vocals kick in like chattering cherubs on "The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records." For all its glancing delights, Yesterday Was Dramatic — Today Is OK is for glitch-pop fundamentalists and stoners only.