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Icelandic Music to knock your socks off.

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If ever you get to fly Icelandair, make sure you bring some decent headphones with you.  The air carrier has an excellent in-cabin radio system with a large number of stations to listen to.  One was an “Icelandic Music” sampler.  On the flight home, I wrote down most of the songs and gave the quickest of ratings to them.

[Beware!  This image is HUGE!]

Here’s a list of the bands with my notes:

  • Band: Ampop
  • Song: January
  • Album: Made for..
  • My Notes: MNML.  Check it out.  3 1/2 stars
  • Band: Apparat Organ
  • Song:?
  • Album: Apparat Organ
  • My Notes: Atmosphere.  [legomen]  check it.  4 stars.
  • []
  • Band: Blindfold
  • Song: Falleg Depuro
  • Album: Faking Dreams
  • My Notes:Like Boards of Canafa meets John Lemain’s pop group.  meh. 2 stars
  • Band: Bloodgroup
  • Song:My Arms
  • Album: Dry Arms
  • My Notes: Click tracks & pop vocals.  good. 3 stars
  • Band: Egill Saebjörnsson
  • Song:
  • Album: Egill S
  • My Notes: singer-songwriter, but darker instead of happy-lovey.  3 stars.
  • Band: Feldberg
  • Song:
  • Album: Don’t Be A…
  • My Notes: sunny dreamy weekend at home. LA may like, too.  Check “Farewell”.  3 stars
  • Band: Hjálmar
  • Song:
  • Album: IV
  • My Notes: Jazzy-Reggae-Folk?  neat once or twice?  2 stars
  • Band: Hjaltalín
  • Song: Suitcase Man
  • Album: Terminal
  • My Notes: SOUNDS LIKES SOUNDTRACK MUSIC sometimes.  Dark.  Then fun. Then Bond-like.  varied in a good way.  4 stars.
  • Band: J Jóhannson
  • Song:
  • Album: Dis
  • My Notes: Kraftwerk clicks with more melody.  Guitar, too.  & fuzz.  4 stars.  atmosphere.

Second Page.

  • Band: Jonsi
  • Song:
  • Album: Go
  • My Notes: Atmospheric but uneven?  Requires further listen.  2 1/2 stars
  • Band: Lay Low
  • Song:
  • Album: Farewell Goodbye
  • My Notes: smoky dirty café (great voice more than anything else!) 3 1/2 stars √
  • Band: Blue Laggoon Soundtrack #2
  • Song:
  • Album:
  • My Notes: VA
  • Band: Our Lives
  • Song:
  • Album: We Lost The…
  • My Notes: 2stars.  Atmo-pop
  • Band: Påll Oskar
  • Song:
  • Album:
  • My Notes: Dance w/ Flutes & Disco! 2 1/2 stars
  • Band: Rökkurró
  • Song:
  • Album: þaó Kólnar…
  • My Notes: Atmosphere pop meets folky accordions of some sort + Icelandic pop = cool. 3 1/2 stars
  • Band: Sudden Weather Change
  • Song:
  • Album: Stop!
  • My Notes:Atmospher + Rock = symphonic/Wall of Sound/Almost.  Check it out/more listen? 3 1/2 stars
  • Band: Sykur
  • Song:
  • Album: Frabært…
  • My Notes:Kraftwerk, updated.  So far, so good  4 stars
  • Icelandic Airwaves Tunes to Find.  These are song titles by VA!
  • Lay Down in the Tall Grass


That’s the end of the Icelandic music love in.  It was followed by some reminders:

  • oh, so many illustrations
  • THE SOUNDTRACK for my funeral [i..e, my life on earth,] is AIR / LA FEMME d’ARGENT

Some general notes:

  • I can’t remember why I appended the square brackets to my note about funeral soundtracks.  I do recall adding the bracket after writing the sentence.  I think it may have to do with differentiating between the sounds of Heaven (Suedehead) and the sounds of my wake (La femme d’argent).
  • Jean-Michel Jarre is not Icelandic music.  He was listed in the “Ambient” radio listings (as well as Air).  I wrote down this album since I’ve listened to it in the past.
  • Jonsi is Jonsi Birgisson, of Sigur Ros.
  • “John Lemain’s pop group” should be read as “John Mullane ‘s group, In-flight Safety.  (I was too tired to remember anything at this point..) I worked with John for a month or two on a catering gig just before the band became big.  Not my kind of music, but props to them for sticking it out.
  • “Blue Laggoon” [sic] is actually the Blue Lagoon, a geo-thermal spa outside of Reykjavik.  It’s kinda touristy, but very must worth the trip.
  • If you’re curious, yes, I can pronounce some of the odd-looking letters, such as the ash (æ) and thorn (þ) (Thank you, ENG 240Y, Old English, at Uni College, U of T).  That doesn’t mean I could understand anything, though.

Some music notes:

  • Iceland has a serious music scene.  I’ve heard twice that aside form being a great cultivator of local music, a lot of bands stop in Reykjavik and play gigs there in order to offset the cost of travel across the Atlantic.  It may be only a story but it doesn’t change the good vibes in this town.
  • There is a wicked music store you should check out if you head to RVK, called 12 Tónar.  12 Tónar has their own record label.  They’re great fellows in there.  You’re welcome to listen to anything in the store in some real comfortable couches and chairs…  and they serve you espresso!
  • RVK has a music festival called Iceland Airwaves.  We missed it by a week – sadness.   Check it out.
  • While looking for URLs for these bands, I found two strong resources online for Icelandic Music:

Written by mitchellirons

October 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm

This Machine Kills Fascists

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Tom laughed uneasily.  “Well, maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big one — an’ then–”

“Then what, Tom?”

“Then it don’ matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark.  I’ll be ever’where—wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there.  If Casy knowed, why I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build — why, I’ll be there.”

Steinbeck, John.  The Grapes of Wrath. Viking Penguin, 1939, 1976.  p. 537

In case you’re wondering why I’ve been so sullen as of late, it’s because I’ve found a new/old punch in the stomach – John Steinbeck.   I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without reading any of his work before.  Shame on me.  And shame on all of us for creating a world that would prompt a book like this to be written.

I hate bankers.

Grapes of Wrath, John  Ford, dir.  Henry Fonda, Per.  1940

Ballad of Tom Joad, Woody Guthrie. 1995. [lyrics, roughly]

Ghost of Tom Joad, Bruce Springsteen. 1995. [lyrics]

Written by mitchellirons

July 21, 2010 at 7:01 am

too many

i have too many accounts in too many places.

Written by mitchellirons

July 11, 2010 at 11:37 am

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Vignettes : A Tale of Two Cities

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Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.  The beginning of Book 1, Chapter 5, “The Wine Shop”:

A large cask of wine had been dropped and broken, in the street. The accident had happened in getting it out of a cart; the cask had tumbled out with a run, the hoops had burst, and it lay on the stones just outside the door of the wine-shop, shattered like a walnut-shell.

All the people within reach had suspended their business, or their idleness, to run to the spot and drink the wine. The rough, irregular stones of the street, pointing every way, and designed, one might have thought, expressly to lame all living creatures that approached them, had dammed it into little pools; these were surrounded, each by its own jostling group or crowd, according to its size. Some men kneeled down, made scoops of their two hands joined, and sipped, or tried to help women, who bent over their shoulders, to sip, before the wine had all run out between their fingers. Others, men and women, dipped in the puddles with little mugs of mutilated earthenware, or even with handkerchiefs from women’s heads, which were squeezed dry into infants’ mouths; others made small mud-embankments, to stem the wine as it ran; others, directed by lookers-on up at high windows, darted here and there, to cut off little streams of wine that started away in new directions; others devoted themselves to the sodden and lee-dyed pieces of the cask, licking, and even champing the moister wine-rotted fragments with eager relish. There was no drainage to carry off the wine, and not only did it all get taken up, but so much mud got taken up along with it, that there might have been a scavenger in the street, if anybody acquainted with it could have believed in such a miraculous presence.

Normally, I don’t have time for Dickens.  I find that the nature of his writing (i.e. his actual writing method) turns so many of his books into stories that introduce too many characters too fast and invariably ends with An Adventure to wrap it all up.  His prose-style is superb, but I think he loses the plot, literally, at the end of his texts.   Oh well, that’s serialized Victorian writing for you.  However, for all the faults I find in Dickens, the opening paragraphs to this chapter redeems him through-and-through.

Written by mitchellirons

May 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

The world will be Tlön

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It’s time for my annual Borges quotation.

Now, the conjectural “primitive language” of Tlön has found its ways into the schools . . .  in all memories, a fictitious past occupies the place of any other. We know nothing about it without any certainty, not even that it is false . . . A scattered dynasty of solitaries has changed the face of the world. Its task continues. If our foresight is not mistaken, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön.

Then, English, French, and mere Spanish will disappear from this planet.  The world will be Tlön.  I take no notice.  I go on revising, in the quiet days in the hotel at Androgué, a tentative translation into Spanish, in the style of Quevedo, which I do not intend to see published, of Sir Thomas Browne’s Urn Burial.

As imposing as this is, it is all the more powerful if you’ve actually read Browne.

Written by mitchellirons

January 26, 2010 at 9:28 am

Hydrostone, Halifax, Christmas Eve 2009

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I took a walk up and down Kane St on Christmas Eve.  It was grey and dreary outside.


In honour of my friend, Disaster Nat


A beautiful, fluffy pile of snow at Merkel Place.


paw print. leaves below.


a pylon. to show us where the phone is when the going gets rough.


running at novalea and duffus and devonshire blvd


fast walker


speckled slush


Green Bins in Merkel Lane, looking toward Novalea.


At the Hydro


Sidewalk at Halifax Side Co., Kane and Agricola


Hundreds of pounds of salt on sale. What would Suzuki do?


That the constructors never had to move the sidewalk (i.e. walk straight into a pit for three months) pisses me off.


more civic art: another snow sculpture, this time at Kaye and Young and Isleville


actually pretty.


Santa says Finish your chowder.

Written by mitchellirons

December 25, 2009 at 11:32 pm

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what i've been up to lately.

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hello.  here are some things i’ve been up to lately.

reaching for zen. i question whether buddha really is the one for me.  but transcendence is a relative beast in the end, so that’s okay.

wondering if i really do believe in contemporary popular culture. i realized this morning that i watch perhaps only one television series per week.  this is due in part to my disdain for serialized story-telling, i admit, but nonetheless i still prefer the film to the telly.  however, i don’t really watch films anymore, either.

wondering if i still really care about politics. i’m feeling apathetic.  i’m feeling like my opinions count for nothing.  i feel like ottawa is nothing but PR and spin control.  and i feel like politicians, when they speak to us with their canned speeches and party-lines, are offending our sensibilities and intelligence.  screw you, john baird and stephen harper.  but screw you, too, michael ignatieff and jack layton.  i’m not finding sincerity in any of their voices anymore.  nor am i finding passion or belief in their respective causes.  no one is emoting a sense of veritas any longer.  it’s all speaking for the camera.  now, the biggest problem in all of this is that politics used to be my fix.  i worry that if Ottawa has lost me, the person who followed the drama day-in and day-out, then they’ve got a BIG problem on their hands.

watching leaves fall. it’s autumn.  i haven’t really experienced autumn like i once did for many years nows.  the fall is, well, a fall.  it brings on a barren, dirty landscape that we call the winter.  but i’m trying to fix my sensibilities.  i used to like the fall, and i want to like it again.  so, down with seeing the dirty landscapes to follow!  up with living the moment in all its fall-colours glory!

questioning the value of literary criticism. well, not really.  i still do believe in lit.crit, whole-heartedly.  however, the other day i was surreptitiously listening to some students and faculty argue that only in Academy are we to find experts in the humanities, and no where else.  To a certain degree, I would concur – it’s the literature faculties in all of our red-brick schools and ivory towers and brutalist-beautiful monstrosities that read and analyze and argue about literature on a regular basis.  they’re the ones who have devoted their lives to understanding lit like no one else can, so the Academy does house a majority of the experts in this field.  yet, I can’t help but wonder where the author (in a pre-barthesian sense) lies in this debate.  Arguing that the Academy is the unequivocal  and  exclusive expert in literature (or drama or fine art or music or whathaveyou) is a little presumptuous and subordinates the primary work of the author to the secondary work of the critic.  The argument that only in the academy are we to find expertise in the humanities is a self-defense mechanism borne of the insecurity of arts faculties in the west today, I think.  now, i believe wholeheartedly in the humanities, and i believe there is a place in our culture for the study of the arts, but for god’s sakes, don’t debase the creators of art in your attempt to save yourself.  the artist and her work are more than just objects of critical study.  the artist and her work are as much a part of the cultural landscape (if not more) as the criticism is since it’s the artist and her work that actually produce the culture in the first place.  man…  to not include the artist as an expert in her artistry is disservice not only to the artist, but to lit.crit itself.

finding my way (see reaching for zen). there is a natural end to all things.  and there is a genesis to things, as well.  and that’s pretty cool.  ’nuff said.

Written by mitchellirons

October 25, 2009 at 10:59 am