Tag: GusGus

GUSGUS Mobile Home

Incredibly, now in their 25th year of existence, Iceland’s GUSGUS are primed to release their 11th studio album ‘Mobile Home’.

Already preceded by the singles ‘Higher’ and ‘Stay The Ride’, the nine track album sees long-term members of the outfit Biggie Viera and Daniel Haraldsson joined by Margrét Rán, lead vocalist of the Icelandic dream-pop band VÖK.

Album opener is the aforementioned ‘Stay The Ride’, but presented in a restructured, more instrumental overture-styled format than the original single.

Criminally short at 2 minutes 40 seconds, the track is a beautifully minimalistic / monophonic electronic piece with a Numan-esque synth lead line. There is something about the male / female vocal interplay on ‘Stay the Ride’ which evokes the spirit of BERLIN, and that’s not a bad thing…

The stumbling offbeat synths of ‘Higher’ appear heavily influenced by the Jon Hopkins track ‘Open Eye Signal’, but the addition of Margrét Rán’s vocals and distorted electronic stabs take the song into new territories. The beauty of many of the tracks on ‘Mobile Home’ (including this one) are that they avoid the temptation of over-production and feature a KRAFTWERK-like simplicity with just the bare minimum of parts to make each song function.

‘Simply Tuesday’ ups the tempo and is easily the standout here; an absolutely fantastic combination of electronic components and subtle pianos, its 4/4 kick drives against the arpeggios in the piece and the chorus has a superb vocal interplay between Haraldsson and Rán.

‘Our World’ is a song that has been kicking around in the GUSGUS universe for a few years now having originally debuted in their live set in 2016 in a longer more instrumental format. The album version sees a more concise mix with additional vocals and is slated as the next single release from the album, although this decision seems puzzling when pitted against ‘Simply Tuesday’ which arguably would have made a far more effective single.

‘Original Heartbreak’ slows the tempo down midway through the album; it’s pleasant enough and again beautifully produced, but suffers from the verse vocal melody unfortunately sounding a tad too similar to Tina Turner’s ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’!

Once the listener gets past that comparison, the track has some evocative Juno-esque echoed polysynths, lead line and a simple 4/4 kick which again showcases a wonderful minimalism that few electronic acts would be brave enough to pare their sound down to.

‘Silence’ takes the album into more ambient territory with rippling arpeggios set over a white noise-shot ‘Oberkorn (It’s A Small Town)’ percussion part.

At the heart of ‘Silence’ is a great song, but maybe a more upbeat production aesthetic would have showcased the track in a better light and help differentiate it from the other down-tempo works on ‘Mobile Home’.

‘The Rink’ follows a similar downtempo path to other tracks on ‘Mobile Home’, whilst album closer ‘Flush’ ups the BPM with an instrumental piece that cycles around its chords for just over four minutes and feels more akin to a film soundtrack piece.

When ‘Mobile Home’ is good, it is VERY good, ‘Simply Tuesday’ is almost worth the admission alone, but it’s a shame that the album doesn’t quite hit that peak elsewhere. At only 9 tracks, this is an easy album to digest, but does leave the listener potentially seeking a couple more upbeat anthemic songs for balance.

Having said that, when compared with other artists that have stuck around for this long, ‘Mobile Home’ will undoubtedly please fans of the act and the return of the male / female vocalist format is one which should excite GUSGUS fans for their future work.

‘Mobile Home’ is released in vinyl LP and digital formats by Kompakt for Europe

GUSGUS presents ‘Mobile Home’ live from Sundlaugin Studio, a worldwide streaming concert on Saturday 29th May 2021 – tickets available from https://www.momenthouse.com/gusgus





Text by Paul Boddy
Photo by Vidar Logi
28th May 2021

Introducing R. MISSING

New York City-based darklings R. MISSING are fronted by Sharon Shy, a vocalist with an elegant Jane Birkin-like presence while the studious Toppy Frost does the music.

Shy has been quoted as saying “While most people seem to bond over things they both like, I think it was a very long shared list of dislikes that kept our initial conversations going”.

Previously going under the moniker of THE ROPES with gloomy indie fare such as ‘Love Is A Chain Store’, R. MISSING are much more electronic if no less enigmatic, exploring more shadowy forms akin to other North American acts such as CHROMATICS, TR/ST and NATION OF LANGUAGE.

Their debut six track mini-album ‘Unsummering’ came out in 2017 on the French label Talitres with the doom disco of ‘Kelly Was a Philistine’ being particularly intriguing, although the pair’s post-punk tendencies were still very much looming the brooding title track. The 2020 singles ‘Suzywhereabout’ and ‘Placeholder For The Night’ signalled airier developments in their increasingly synthier sound.

But on signing to Sugarcane Recordings who have been a North American home to artists such as SIN COS TAN, GUSGUS, PROCESSORY, GAZELLE TWIN, FRAGILE SELF and THE KVB, the wonderful new single ‘Crimeless’ is R. MISSING’s most electronic pop noir statement yet, like CHROMATICS carefully reconfigured for the dancefloor with Sharon Shy presenting a whispery singing style that could easily be mistaken for Ruth Radelet.

Accompanied by a video made by Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib, it is a variation on their 2019 installation ‘Vanitas MMXVlll’. Using still life like half-eaten fruit, broken glass, snapped candles, wilting flowers and skulls falling upwards in slo-mo, its original concept was “to reflect our current cultural moment, where formerly stable institutions that once embodied shared values are undermined while pride and avarice have been elevated to virtues”.

As if to reinforce R. MISSING’s fully focussed electronic direction, Icelandic label mates GUSGUS provide two tight dance remixes for ‘Crimeless’ although THE KVB contribute something with more of a psychedelic shoegaze demeanour that also acts a reflection of Shy and Frost’s roots. It could all get very interesting…

‘Crimeless’ is released by Sugarcane Recordings as a single bundle with remixes by GUGGUS and THE KVB, it is available now as a download direct from https://sugars.bandcamp.com/album/crimeless






Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th May 2021

GUSGUS Lies Are More Flexible

GUSGUS started within cinematography but gained international acclaim for their electronic productions.

As an eclectic troupe, with various members weaving in and out of the collective over the years, the Icelandic duo of Daniel Ágúst Haraldsson and Birgir Þórarinsson have been the only constants.

Taking their name from a mispronunciation of “cuscus” in a German film ‘Ali: Fear Eats The Soul’, the Reykjavik sound manipulators have always marvelled at being able to play with various styles and genres, mainly producing dance pieces spanning from Euro-disco, through ambient to house.

Whatever the description, the quality of GUSGUS’ fruit has shone brightly over the last nine studio releases and number ten, ‘Lies Are More Flexible’ is no different.

A collection of four vocal and four instrumental tracks is as eclectic as any previous work from the talented bunch, seeing the two founding members hard at work to showcase their ever changing, yet familiar sound.

Starting with stunning synth arpeggios on ‘Featherlight’, bringing back the good old memories of classic ambient dance tracks, the atmosphere is set on cold and icy with occasional specks of warming hope. If they ‘Don’t Know How To Love’ in its progressive house alignments, maybe John Grant, who Þórarinsson once produced, could help on backing vocals? The track is a desperate plea to be taught “how to love”, over a stencil of found sounds and haunting synth.

But now comes the ‘Fireworks’, enveloping the club feel of a perfect dance track, followed by ‘Lifetime’, which is equally bouncy and grabs with its sweet synth punches and exquisite melody. From the word full to word none, ‘No Manual’ offers life affirming capabilities with an equivocal undercoat, while the title track reminisces the familiarity of vintage video games.

‘Towards Storm’ ebbs and flows endlessly, with the album closing on ‘Fuel’, continuing to carry the light and warmth of hope, peace and weightlessness, so consistent in GUSGUS’ offerings.

It is refreshing to listen to a shorter product, where the length of the opus means no lesser amount of work and no compromise in the quality of the recordings.

Those who marvel at Haraldsson’s voice will enjoy their treat, while the others lose themselves in the appreciation of the instrumental only pieces. Both match the high quality that GUSGUS have been known and loved for many years now. Maybe ‘Lies Are More Flexible’, but the truth is the duo are hitting new levels of brilliance with their latest offering.

‘Lies Are More Flexible’ is released by Oroom in digital formats




Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
1st March 2018