YES, THERE are glacial guitars; deep, granular textures, broad-spectrum instrumental effects that see you soaring over the landscape in your mind’s eye; it would be all too easy to stop here and reference back to fellow countrymen Sigur Rós.
But then the sweet male vocal makes itself known and the dramatic scenery of the song pulls in an irresistibly intelligent pop direction, and things begin to look a different; sunlight dapples the rolling hills. A post-rock pop if you like, exploratory soundscapes married to a melodic sensibility not unlike Of Monsters And Men; and this is the direction that Kaktus Einarsson, otherwise singer with techno duo-turned-post-punkers Fufanu, is exploring with this single, “Kick The Ladder”, from what sounds to be the a supremely captivating new album of the same name.
Kick The Ladder, the album, explores in fine pop how we relate to our surroundings, whether environmental or personal; one track, “Hypnotized”, is inspired by the recent deportation of immigrants and their children from Iceland, some of whom have lived there all their lives. Einar asks: “Are the children scared? Do they belong with us here?” Angered, schools marched against the decision – “They do not bow their heads to the plan, nor adjust to the broken scam,” as Einar sings – the children weren’t clouded by compromise and adult fuddle; they knew right from wrong and were clear.
It’s the latest missive in a creative conversation that began aged just 10, when Kaktus began playing as part of experimental electronic act Ghostigital and saw Fufanu supporting Blur at that legendary Hyde Park gig.
Kaktus wrote the songs for Kick The Ladder in Iceland, then developed its sound in Copenhagen with French prepared piano experimentalist Thibault Gomez. “I was using my knowledge of extended playing techniques and the contemporary repertoire, and getting them into my pop music,” he says.
“We replaced synths with acoustic sounds that are familiar, but unfamiliar in many ways. It’s all organic, there are no artificial effects: we created all the effects with this one instrument, the grand piano. We tried it for every situation. To build up tension and suspension in songs and sounds we would scratch, e-bow and regular bowing the strings inside of the piano for example, and even play with brooms on the belly of the grand piano; used it even as a drum machine!
“Every song on this album is a love letter to my environment, and my surroundings,” he says.
“Some of the songs are a dialogue between two people, others might be written to nature, and what is happening to our planet.”