31 (noisy) songs
Iceland, although not inhabited by many people, has a lot to show civilization-wise (the other aspects of Iceland are mostly covered with snow, so one can only guess): nationalization of banks, incarceration of bankers, denying debt repayment, Bjork, Sigur Rós.
It also has a good neo-psychedelic scene, with a few very good bands. What these bands have in common is a guy called Henrik Bjornsson (Singapore Sling, Go-Go Darkness, Dead Skeletons).
OK, to be honest, I have no idea how many bands this “scene” includes, how many bands are needed to “establish” a scene, how many of them Bjorsnsson is a member of and exactly what his part is in the whole picture. What’s clear though is that all these bands share a love for Brian Jonestown Massacre (as a matter of fact two of the guys from Dead Skeletons are BJM collaborators, according to something I read somewhere the other day, which, as you know full well, is a very reliable source), Jesus & Mary Chain and shoegaze, with the Skeletons being the most psychedelic of the bunch. Aesthetically, they all seem to be inspired by 50’s rock ‘n’ roll and/or what’s been coined as deathrock: I conjecture that these Icelanders inhabit a much more frozen, morbid and gloomy place than what the idyllically white Icelandic landscape appears to be. Alright!
Start playing “Dead Mantra” in the player below and let’s begin.
Dead Skeletons’ purpose is, either just for fun (as a tongue-in-cheek and very advantageous aesthetic choice) or seriously (which I’d rather it wasn’t, because – although I don’t like to judge others’ sacred beliefs – it’s total bullshit), to create the ultimate meditation, mysticism and praying to dark deities soundtrack and claim a spot in the official 21st century occultist kit (endorsed jointly by Occult Now, The Sorcerer and New Broomstick Monthly), along with black light, marijuana, incense sticks and wall cloth with elephant, skull and red sun decorative motifs.
Consequently, besides the usual shoegaze noise, feedback, cavernous deadpan singing, rock beat and post-punk bassline mix, you will encounter mantras in unknown to human civilization tongues (it’s probably dialects spoken by Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones), tons of echo and spooky echoes of spoken words, loads of references to gods and assorted deities (from Shiva to Buddha and from Jesus to … dunno … Newcombe?), repetitive and menacing guitar and synth lines, ominous sounds, worrying voices that chant their significant shit from the great beyond. This is an agitated trip in a world of unease where every corner smells threat and where motionless tension has replaced calm (how very poetic of me). The soundscape might be vast but the atmosphere is suffocating. To put it differently, visualize a photograph of the frozen white Icelandic scenery in negative.
All in all, it’s a brilliant album, which I consider self-evident that you should listen to if you like Singapore Sling. But even if you don’t, you should find “Dead Magick” very interesting if you dig the concept. Or, if you are bored of the new age CDs your elder master gave you to do your rituals with and you want to replace that watered-down hippie crap with something with attitude. The idea has been executed properly, both aesthetically (although the energy invested to the aesthetics is admittedly rather disproportional: they’ve put together six really trippy videos already, they sell t-shirts of 3 different designs – one of which is fantastic and I really want it, you fucking recession –, they cover the project with tantalizing mystery etc) and essentially: I’m not into awarding stars, but if I did, I’d give “Dead Magick” like a whole bunch.
Plus, it features “Ljosberinn”: