"Summer Make Good"
Per capita, Iceland has more enigmatic, ambient post-rock combos than any other country, and it's only natural that these ensembles would strive to become even more enigmatic and ambient. The members of Mum have taken to secluding themselves at a remote lighthouse to compose their music, returning with cooing, rippling, clanking soundscapes such as the ones on "Summer Make Good," the trio's second full-length release. You don't need your own lighthouse to appreciate it, but anyone who gave up on Radiohead after "OK Computer" is not invited.
Although these slowly unfolding pieces include some longish instrumental passages, Mum's most identifiable instrument is the girlish soprano of Kristin Anna Valtysdottir. Whether her singing is celestial or cloying is a matter of taste. Some listeners will find Valtysdottir's voice a little easier to take when it's contrasted by an earthier male one, as on "Oh, How the Boat Drifts," or by dancing steel-drum lines, as on the fragmentary "Small Deaths Are the Saddest." Indeed, the use of percussive timbres associated with the Caribbean rather than the North Atlantic is one of the more engaging things about "Summer Make Good." More bright sunshine and less frigid mist would really differentiate Mum from the burbling Icelandic post-rock pack.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Saturday at the Black Cat with Snowblow. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Mum, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8108. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)