múm Menschen Am Sonntag - Live In Berlin (10" LP, £15.95)label: Morr Music
Returning to Berlin for the third instalment of their acclaimed live-score performance to accompany silent film classic "Menschen am Sonntag" (1930), múm also present a special treat during the Berlinale: the band's label releases a limited edition vinyl 10inch comprising material that was recorded during previous instalments of this extraordinary film/music event. Initiated by curators Ben Czernek and Hannes Frey for their genre-defying UM:LAUT live series at Radialsystem V in Berlin, the members of "what's possibly the most original band hailing from Iceland" (ByteFM) gained universal praise. Joined by guest percussionist Samuli Kosminen, múm founders Gunnar Tynes & Örvar Smárason create stunning instrumental soundscapes to accompany and enhance the late-1920s action portrayed in the film, which was already considered a milestone shortly after its release. German daily newspaper Taz praised the band's live score after the 2016 performance, stating: "It worked so well that one can easily imagine the 74 minutes as an album." Absorbingly rich in scope and cinematic in their own right, the four tracks that comprise this (significantly shorter) release work just as well without their visual counterpart. Directed by Robert Siodmak & Edgar G. Ulme (and co-written by Billy Wilder), "Menschen am Sonntag" follows the lives of a group of Berlin residents on a summer's day in a series of leisurely snapshots. A late-period semi-documentary silent film with a unique feel, it's considered a pivotal work. The film feels quite opposite to the expressionist vehemence, that dominated German cinema within the 20s: "Menschen am Sonntag" is a modernist work, it feels calm and light. Watching it today however feels poignant, because it portrays a generation that was heading for the (then) unthinkable disaster. Accordingly, múm don't shy away from adding explosive elements and sonic drama to the score: Arriving with shimmering sounds and ambient layers, the first track "Cards" eventually bursts into a mix of live drums and massive beams of electronica. Whereas "Evaporate" includes great piano miniatures, "Cycle Boats" boasts a melody that perfectly reflects the leisurely coming and going, the ebb and flow of a summer Sunday in and around the city. The final song "My Claws" is a wildly dense, unstoppable force of nature: catchy like an 80s pop tune, it's impossible to resist this instrumental grand finale that completes this special live release. Known for presenting a mix of electronica, ambient sounds, and experimental indie pop, múm was founded in 1997 and over the course of the last decade, the former quartet has evolved into an open collective of sorts. With seven LPs under their collective belt, múm also worked on various film-related projects including a score to Sergej Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin".
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