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. Hes a bit of a rock star in his native Iceland, and his music can be seen to reflect that lands 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. Hes also funny. To describe what Mugison does on Mugimama (on Matther Herberts estimable Accidental Records) could mean instant death, so lets 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 partners Is that all youve 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 Icelands National Music Awards, including Album of the Year, besting Björks Medulla. But hes not just a studio mole: He also won the NMAs Best Performer award, and word is, the laptop-aided shaky shambling of the decidedly nonglamorous Mugison is quite the crowd-pleaser live.
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Mugison plays Tangier November 11.