I started hearing good little bits of information about a month or so ago, and realized that they'd had a remix included on Sigur Ros' hard-to-find Von remix album. Also an Icelandic group, they still remained a bit of a mystery. Then, soon after that a couple great reviews for the release popped up in trusted places and the next thing I knew, I just had to have the album. I'm a sucker for fairly unknown bands that are just starting out and driving people to say amazing things about them in the process, so I bought a copy of the disc for myself to find out what all the fuss is about.
As it turns out, almost every single bit of that praise is rightly warranted. Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK is simply one of the most gorgeous electronic albums that I've heard in a long time. The four piece group mixes little bits of all kinds of sounds organic and inorganic and has come up with an absolutely stunning debut album of 10 tracks that run just over an hour long. Hearing it is also leading me to believe that there may be something in the water in Iceland that's contributing to the subtle and beautiful music that is coming out of the small country lately.
The album opens with a track called "I'm 9 Today" and playful sounds abound and propel the song. With a rhythm section that sounds like it's made out of sampled tapping on wood and a music box, it sort of reminds me of Boards Of Canada, but with a much more organic feel as it sounds like even a harmonica makes its way into the end of the track. The second track on the disc ("Smell Memory") is really the only one on the entire release that treads into a little darker territory, but the chiming track pings and echoes so nicely that it will won't matter.
Besides that, the very next track following is probably the most hummable. "There Is A Number Of Small Things" might as well be the electronic music version of a kids nursery song, but you'd have to have a heart of freaking stone not to be won over by it. The track mixes a touch of Clarinet and some guitar in with the pretty little melody, and after listening to the track just once, you'll probably find yourself "la-la-ing" the melody to yourself the rest of the day. The one-two combination of tracks, "Asleep On A Train" and "Awake On A Train" also carve into that beautiful niche and the latter revisits the use of vocals in a non-obtrusive way to add another nice element to the track. If there is any problem at all with the album, it's that a couple tracks run a slight bit too long, but it's really not too big of a deal. Themes are nicely explored without getting too redundant for the most part and if I need a soundtrack for a nice summer day, I know what album is going to be first on my list.
Although it's still a bit of a stretch, think Plone without the sheer reliance on cute sounds or Nobukazu Takemura if he wasn't so damn infatuated with glitch and instead focused on writing melodies that will catch in your head and having you humming along with them. Think of an album with 10 songs that are all more beautiful than the quiet closing track of "Nannou" off Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker" single. Yes, it's high praise to be heaping on a group for their debut album, but I can only hope that this foursome improves and continues doing great things. As it stands, though, this is one of the best releases that I've heard this year so far and if you're into powerful electronic music that affects without relying on beats that pummel you, please go out and find this release right away.