Song of the Day: Mammút - Salt

Iceland Airwaves, Song of the Day
02/06/2014
Jim Beckmann
photo by Morgen Schuler

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Salt” by Mammút from the 2013 album Komdu til mín svarta systir on Record Records.

Mammút - Salt (MP3)

We first caught the Icelandic band Mammút in their practice space during our first ever trip to Iceland Airwaves in 2009. I remarked then that their "sharp guitars, thudding bass lines, typically pop structured rock songs, and most importantly a killer voice from [singer Kata] Mogensen" made them "one of the tightest bands I saw" that year. Their critically acclaimed 2009 album, Karkari, was also one of my favorites that year. We recorded them twice more, in 2010 and 2011, but it's taken this long for their follow up to Karkari to come out.

Listening to Komdu til mín svarta systir is like mainlining pure emotion. I can say without hyperbole that it's as impassioned as Portishead's Dummy or Sinéad O'Connor's The Lion and the Cobra ever was. Not only does singer Kata Mogensen posses as wide ranging and gut punching pipes as either Beth Gibbons or O'Connor in their primes, but the entire band hits all of the cathartic cues — from Arnar Pétursson's churning guitar to Ása Dýradóttir's deep growling bass, Alexandra Baldursdóttir's sonorous riffs and Andri Bjartur Jakobsson's pounding beats. "Come to me my dark sister", the title roughly translates, and each song has a unique embrace. Moodily melodic opener “Ströndin” and its punchy followup “Blóðberg” make for good singles, but today's featured song, "Salt", best captures the album's range, from its lulling opening and gradual build to its epic release. Though its title is in English, like all of the songs on Svarta systir, it's sung completely in Icelandic. But listeners from anywhere need not fear, Mammút's songs are in a language of their own.

Mammút recently played a show in Reykjavik but have no plans as of yet to travel. But you can pick up their album on their label's website, and follow them on their Facebook page. For now, here's a performance of "Glæður", another song from their new album, recorded during an exclusive session for KEXP during Iceland Airwaves 2013.

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