Record Collector 4**** "a little like the meeting point between Robert Calvert-era Hawkwind, Man, Television and The Bevis Frond"
Mum Early Birds
Morr CD MM116 0880918811628 4 Jun 12
Early Birds is a compilation of 15 tracks recorded between 1998-2000 and long-lost or extremely rare, taken from demo tapes or limited edition vinyl releases including the yet-unreleased "Hvernig a ao saea vini sina" (a fan favorite that was included on the soundtrack to the movie The Exploding Girl)
M?m had a distinctive style even back in the earliest days: their compositions were all about melodies but that's about the only thing these 15 songs have in common. The first half of the compilation focuses on the playful, "full of beans"-type experimental tracks: pastiche and experimentation are key, going from hyped-up pre-Electronica sounds to jazzy Drum & Bass. The second half of the album is comprised of those quieter, massive m?m tracks, with only a few analog layers, harmonious and blissful, revolving around each other for minutes. Early Birds ends with a contemplative piece that's 10 minutes long and comprised of field recordings, harmonica, accordion, and lots of room for reverb (you could almost call it Dub). The song title pretty much translates to "No one was listening to the fiddler, because the fiddle-strings were broken (why can't you be good to your mother?)". This final track ultimately became the "Ballad Of The Broken String" on mum's debut album "Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK" (2001). When the debut dropped, mum had found their sound. The rest is history: The band was hailed as a key exponent of "Electronica", and with every release they sounded more and more unique and complete - only to become what might be Iceland's most original band today. Early Birds showcases the formative years and perfectly illustrates this evolution, though at the same time it shows that things could've turned out quite differently. Plus, it also proves one other thing: Yesterday was OK, too.
The compilation album comes with nostalgic artwork by Ingibj?rg Birgisd?ttir who experienced the early days of m?m first hand. Both the LP and CD version include a booklet that explains how each of the 15 (mostly instrumental) tracks came about.