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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “ Bál” by Drangar from their 2013 self-released, self-titled debut.
Their name says it all. In Icelandic, “drangar” are “pillars of rock”. Among their fellow musicians, that describes the members of this Icelandic trio perfectly, but while each is a star in his own right, together they form an integrated whole. Of the three, Mugison is certainly the most well known outside of Iceland and is practically a Bacchanalian Nordic deity at home, though one more to be partied with than revered. Jónas Sig has gained popularity with the soulful Jónas Sigurðsson og Ritvélar framtíðarinnar (or “Jónas Sigurðsson and the Typewriters of the Future”) over the past several years and was even featured on our 2010 Iceland Airwaves podcast mix (listen here). And esteemed guitarist Ómar Guðjóns (a.k.a. Ómar Guðjónsson) is lauded for his work with Icelandic funk band Jagúar, avant-jazz band ADHD, and the afropop loving Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band, who we’ve featured during our Airwaves broadcast this year.
All three perform and record as solo musicians at least as much as they record with others, but in Drangar they meet as peers and friends, each contributing equally to all songs from beginning to end, each taking on roles they’re not widely known for — Mugison on his synth combo “mirstrument”, Jónas behind the drum kit, and Ómar occasionally on bass — and all three alternating vocals at different times. As a result, their self-titled, self-released debut sounds both like and unlike their previous work as it ranges between dreamy melodicism and booty-shaking funk. Today’s featured song, “Bál”, falls in the latter category as it builds from Ómar’s pumping bassline into Mugison’s dizzying electronics and sing-along choruses (if you only knew the words!). The song title means “bonfire”, but you’ll get the hint as soon as you spark this one up!
Drangar is busy at home, performing all around Iceland, but there’s no sign of their traveling this far west any time soon. But you can watch videos and keep up with the band, as well as purchase their hand-packaged CDs, on their website and Facebook page. We’ll be featuring a rockin’ set they performed exclusively for KEXP at Sigur Rós’ Sundlaugin studio soon, but for now, check out this performance of “Bál” they performed live in-studio at RÚV in Reykjavik: