Múm Yesterday Was Dramatic Today is Ok

[Thule; 2000]

Styles: electronica, lo-Fi, IDM, glitch-pop
Others: Sigur Ros, Emilie Simon, Leif Eriksson, Bjork, Dntel

I don't know about any of you, but I stayed away from electronic music for a long time because I thought it was boring, repetitive, uninteresting, lacking emotion etc. Then I heard Bjork, Radiohead's Kid A, Autechre, Boards of Canada, and now to a lesser extent, the new Flaming Lips album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Little did I know that before all of them came Müm.

This album was released in 2000, same as Kid A, and it contains similar melodic ambient soundscapes; however, the soundscapes hinted at on tracks such as "Everything in Its Right Place," "Kid A," "Motion Picture Soundtrack," are taken to a new level. The songs on this album reverberate through your entire head. They seem like a journey or ride (two of the tracks are "Asleep on a Train" and "Awake on a Train").

The music is always evolving, going back and forth between themes, melodies, intertwined synths, video game arpeggios, all done with apparent ease and elegance. They do Aphex Twin style intense rolls with synth melodies as well as drums and achieve ethereal results. This is what electronic music should be. It's not boring; its not repetitive; its not flat or two dimensional. Perhaps the key is the fact that Müm is more than the usual few people who create electronic music; its a real band with a bunch of people, and they play acoustic and electronic instruments; however, it is impossible to tell by the album. There is no real solid structure to anything, no set instruments that reappear, vocals are sparse and treated with intense reverb that leaves them sounding like another instrument instead of a real voice. Müm has created a very beautiful record here that is unique and interesting.

Some favorite tracks of mine are "Asleep on a Train" and "Awake on a Train." These two tracks recreate a train so vividly: the jarring drum machine is the train track and by the end of "Asleep" they slowly fade out and you're left with a clear melody. Suddenly the dream is awoken by a voice on an intercom, probably the stewardess or something, and the jarring rhythm kicks in again as you "Awake". Another favorite is "Slow Bicycle." It starts off with a long loop on synth and as that repeats the sounds around it evolve into different harmonies and timbres without you hardly noticing it. Yet another favorite is "the Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records." What made me fall in love with this one is the vocals. They burst forth after the first minute or so and fill up your head.

This is an awesome album altogether to listen to passively as well as actively, as is with all ambient music. It is rewarding in both ways. This is electronic music with emotion, it evolves and changes and  takes you to a new place. So before you dismiss electronic music, have a listen to Müm and maybe you'll change your mind.

1. I'm 9 Today
2. Smell Memory
3. There Is a Number of Small Things
4. Random Summer
5. Asleep on a Train
6. Awake on a Train
7. The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records
8. The Ballad of the Broken String
9. Sunday Night Just Keeps on Rolling
10. Slow Bicycle