Thursday, May 17, 2007


Venue:Mono, Glasgow, Tuesday 15th May 2007

After the Icelandic Dance company's Mysteries of Love, and Hafdis Huld at the Arches, I find myself at my third Icelandic event in less than a week, and none of them were connected either. This time it is the turn of Amiina, who have added an extra "i" to their name since I first came across them. Amina toured as support and collaborators to fellow Icelanders Sigur Ros. Though not having been particularly interested in Sigur Ros till Taak that was something I missed out on. Instead it was their inclusion in the film Screaming Masterpiece, a documentary about music in Iceland, that brought them to my attention. After which I picked up their 4 track EP Animanima.

Apparently Amiina played Glasgow 2 years ago, that performance then being only their third performance ever. Back now to promote their album Kurr they are doing a small headline tour of Europe. Though Kurr isn't available in the shops yet, the debut album is available from their website, or from seeing them live. The disc coming in a novel, card sleeve, which gives the impression of opening a note book.

Unsure of when the gig actually started, I finally found a listing saying that "doors opened" 8.30pm, while at the same time saying that online tickets were sold out. The gig was held in Mono, my favourite bar in Glasgow, though ironically I have never been in to see a band (though had seen a number at the now defunct sister bar Stereo). Mono, formerly the site of a Mexican restaurant, is a vegan bar/restaurant with in-house Indy record shop Monorail. Being familiar with the venue, I arrived about 8ish, bought a couple of CDs in the record shop along with a ticket for the gig. So that as the promoters were going round the venue, ensuring that everyone already "in" had a ticket, bought a ticket, or left, I did have a ticket in hand to be exchanged from a big red cross on the back of my hand.

I found myself a stool by the bar, and feeling a little tired, I had them ply me with a steady stream of caffeine. Which I drank over the course of the two support bands. Both played short sets, both solo, male, guitarists. The first sat down, playing singer song writer stuff, fair enough, with points from the cults fans by finishing on a piece inspired by The Prisoner. The second stood pretty much with his back to the audience, the line between him tuning up and starting playing being one that was easily missed, his instrumental work being downplayed and understated.

The stage was packed with gear, and a handful of seats, the reasons for which became clear when the four Icelandic girls took to the stage. Throughout the set, often several times in each piece, the girls would switch instruments, tip-toeing from place to place, avoiding bumping into anything. Throughout Amiina played quiet, delicate music, only really becoming "loud" towards the end of the set. People came to the bar and whispered their orders; the staff had an oil can out, trying to get out the squeak from toilet doors.

Buying Kurr after the band finished, on my way out the door, I wasn't really familiar with most of the material that they played in the set which was just over an hour long, though I did recognise at least 3 of the 4 tracks from the EP. Though the new material isn't far from expectations, combining cello, violin, guitar, banjo, chimes, bells, xylophone, saw blades, and whatever other toys come to hand with laptops and a couple of other pieces of electronic equipment to produce gentle melodic music. Which, while I know some people who would hate it, I find to be pleasingly nice, soothing and enjoyable.

Just as their music is quiet, so are the girls. Thanking the audience for being here, explaining about how the last time had been their third gig, how the last gig they played their equipment had got wet from the rain but seems to be OK now - all spoken at an ear straining level. The last track they play translates as "Birthday Song", a quirky little piece, particularly featuring programmed beats and moments of electronic oddity, coupled with one of them using a large saw as an instrument. Coming back on stage for an encore, there is some shared laughter, all 4 sitting with a saw and bowing them while flexing the blades, or striking them xylophone beaters. This last piece is droney and as down beat as the rest of the set, though they take turns giggling and losing control as the silliness gets to them. That done, they leave stage to enthusiastic applause, and start setting up a stall to sell their wares - CDs, 12"s, t-shirts, and tote bags.

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