I first heard about M-Band, a project of Icelandic artist Hörður Bjarnason, from my Reykjavík-based fellow during a night ride with S-Bahn in Berlin, somewhere between Charlottenburg and Ostbahnhof. The circumstances proved to be really accurate as the musician currently lives in capital of Germany. Anyway, I promised myself that I will check out his music as soon as I can and when I finally did, I found out that the debut album was supposed to appear in a near future. Fortunately, I did not have to wait too long - Haust has been published yesterday!
The album begins with the weird sound-snippets of Launch but just when I start to wonder whether M-Band presents the same side of Berlin as Holly Herndon, the majestic piano note strikes in the style of Halls and then you simply know that there will be something more in his sound – melody, beauty, melancholy and emotions. There is also one both important and magnificent element that is added to this mix and it is introduced when you are well into the hypnotizing Ever Ending Never. Yes, that is the vocal. And Hörður’s voice varies throughout the album; he may sound a bit like Thom Yorke only to turn into Antony Hegarty in the next track.
One of the things that M-Band does wonderfully on Haust is connecting atmospheric vocals with the surprisingly intensive beats. Because you would not expect the song like Jon Hopkins’ Open Eye Signal to be accompanied by high voice but this is exactly what happens in Ever Ending Never and the effect is amazing. Let’s consider another example - in Fractions elongated vocal parts of high voice are backed by very fast melody and it works extremely well. But there are also other highlights of the album – over ten-minutes-long experiment called Psalms Of The Mushroom War or the ecstatic organ part in the title track.
Two morals can be derived from this text. One - Haust by M-Band is a great release. And two – one should always pay attention to what the Icelandic guys are saying. They have amazing taste in music, I can tell you that.