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This Is Monkey Music

Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music?, by solo artist Mugison, is a thing of uncategorizable allure, and its creator a genuinely exciting new presence, seeming to burst with novel ways of revealing his and our most achingly personal thoughts in previously unheard ways. He’s a bit of a rock star in his native Iceland, and his music can be seen to reflect that land’s bleakly beautiful vistas: a Mars-like terrain furiously warmed by geothermal hot spots that come geysering forth in great steaming plumes when one least expects it. He’s also funny. To describe what Mugison does on Mugimama (on Matther Herbert’s estimable Accidental Records) could mean instant death, so let’s very generally call it some sort of feral crossbreeding between the black-humored melancholia of Smog or maybe Will Oldham, intercut and underscored but not undermined by warmly abstruse electronic and musique-concrète-ish ’scapes. And, good God, his unique (to say the least) lyrics just pop right off the disc: ‘’Be intellectual, baby’’ he advises in ‘’The Chicken Song’’; you can also hear him observe that “I think her dad is gay,” and elsewhere he rhymes “sleeping on the wet spot” with his partner’s “Is that all you’ve got?” For all his arcane motivation, Mugi labors not in obscurity — Mugimama has been in the Top 10 in Iceland since its late 2004 release, and he recently won four awards at Iceland’s National Music Awards, including Album of the Year, besting Björk’s Medulla. But he’s not just a studio mole: He also won the NMA’s Best Performer award, and word is, the laptop-aided shaky shambling of the decidedly nonglamorous Mugison is quite the crowd-pleaser live.

Mugison plays Tangier November 11.


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