by Stína Satanía
The lights in the huge concert hall turned off. Five people dressed in black began their last show of the week at Iceland’s biggest music festival. The band on stage, Mammút, has been known on the local scene for their dark, melodic, post-punk style for over a decade. On that last night of Iceland Airwaves 2016, Mammút had the privilege of warming up for one of the biggest acts of the festival, PJ Harvey, and they presented brand new material from their upcoming (at the time) fourth album, Kinder Versions. The very first sounds I heard on the stage suggested that the new album was going to be something special. Some months later, I had the honour of speaking with guitarist Alexandra Baldursdóttir and frontwoman Katrína Mogensen about the new album.
First steps towards Kinder Versions
The new album was released more than eight months after that performance. Kinder Versions finally saw the light of day on 14 July 2017, and turned out to be a spectacular and cohesive record. The sound of the album is dark and heavy. On the album, the band builds on their unique sound, largely defined by the mesmerizing core of the rhythm section, surrounded by angular guitars and haunting vocals.
Describing the shape-shifting sound for which the band is known, Alexandra explains the following:
We find strength in being different people that don’t particularly share the same taste in music. I find it a strength of Mammút. Arnar [Pétursson, guitarist] loves rap; Ása [Dýradóttir, bassist] mostly listens to ambient music; Andri [Jakobsson, drummer] is influenced by jazz; me and Kata [Katrína Mogensen] have our own favourite things. Then everything comes together and each of us tries to push their stuff.
It might seem like five different personalities and distant sonic directions meeting on Mammút’s playground. The synergy among the members of Mammút has been growing successfully for the past 15 years. Although these musicians have been playing together since their teens, they can still surprise themselves with new musical directions, and Kinder Versions exemplifies this.
The first song written for the album, ‘Walls’, was created during early sessions in Bolungarvík, a fishing village located on the northwest of Iceland. Surprisingly for the band, the song does not follow a sonic path consistently travelled on the entire album. Katrína sums it up as follows:
Everything changed from the starting point. My vision of the album was totally different. It became much more dramatic and personal than I even thought it could be. This record is like a sandwich of darkness with a light in the middle…