MUM

BOBBY KARATE, LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

I-Spy, 374-9492, $10

9 p.m., Mon., Aug. 12

No matter how old and crotchety some of us get, there's always

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Child's Play

Icelandic pop experimentalists Múm make listeners feel young again.

MUM

BOBBY KARATE, LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

I-Spy, 374-9492, $10

9 p.m., Mon., Aug. 12

No matter how old and crotchety some of us get, there's always a little childhood buried deep within. Random sensory information—a smell or a sound—can often trigger a flood of memories, tapping into feelings of a warm, fuzzy yesterday. Occasionally, a band comes along with a knack for channeling that vibe, for capturing the essence of youth in their sound.

"I had a place to run around when I was little—a big hill with trees and run-down bunkers and tunnels from the war," says Mm's ֲvar P�jarson SmᲡson, attempting to explain how the Icelandic quartet so perfectly mines the aesthetic. "It's the intense senses and feelings and thoughts that all blend together into being a child."

SmᲡson and his Mm bandmates—Gunnar ֲn Tynes and twin sisters Gyda and Krist???Anna Valtysd�r—aren't that far removed from their youth, but these twentysomethings have already managed to carve a special niche in the international music community. The group recently released their second album, Finally We Are No One, and the disc proves a hypnotic, moody merger of acoustica and electronic tones. Songs like "Green Grass of Tunnel" cast lilting melodies over bubbling, glitchy beats, all drenched in washes of shimmering ambient noise. Fortunately, Mm manage to avoid the tendency of most electro outfits—often slave to computer sounds and samples—by incorporating glockenspiel, accordion, guitar, cello, and other traditional instruments into their music.

"Playing around is important for us," explains SmᲡson, "enjoying and trying out different things." Young ֲvar was already a veteran of desktop experimentation by the time he hooked up with fellow teenage tech-head Tynes in 1997. The pair discovered the classically trained Valtysd�r sisters playing Pixies covers at a community center and found the girls' whispery vocals and multi-instrumental skills an ideal match for their dual lap- top trickery.

After an early cassette-only release, the group released their proper debut album, Yesterday Was Dramatic Today Is OK, on Iceland's Thule Records in 2000. The record was quickly lapped up by an adoring music press and the European IDM community, the young band showered with comparisons to Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and even Scottish baroque popsters Belle & Sebastian (with whom the band has since become friends). The unexpected acclaim was something SmᲡson says he and his resolutely mellow, middle-class bandmates took in stride.

"Yes, we have had a warm reception," he quips dryly, "but we don't feel any pressure because of it."

Mm's adoption by Europe's electronic/ experimental elite led to a number of remixes by laptop heavyweights like U-ziq, Christian Kleine, ISAN, Phonem, and B. Fleischman. In 2001, Morr Music—a hip German digi-pop label—released a disc containing those songs, as well as several new Mm tracks for the Please Smile My Noise Bleed collection. The band also got in on the other end of the remix game, reworking tracks by acts such as Italian/ Icelandic chanteuse Emiliana Torrini, as well as fellow countrymen, Sigur Ros.

After Thule Records sold a Mm song to Sony without asking the band, thus breaking their contract, the foursome switched over to the U.K.'s Fat Cat imprint for this year's Finally We Are No One. It's a record that finds the band leaning more toward the melodic rather than the twittering electronic meanderings of old.

"We compose in many ways," says SmᲡson. "Sometimes the beats come first, and melodies later. Or first there are recorded sounds, and then there is a guitar. Or there is a tune, and then there is everything else. I can't really explain. I can tell you that there is a lot of time spent with an instrument or in front of the computer or both.

"There is more focus on Finally We Are No One," he admits of the new disc. "[Recording] Yesterday was more of just letting it come out the way it wanted. It's not any direction that we have thought about heading in. Maybe the next album will just roll itself out."

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