Album Review: Human Woman - Human Woman

I'm a little bit in love with Iceland. The geography, the culture and definitely the music. For an island with a population of approximately 300,000 it really has far more interesting music than it ought to. Björk, Sigur Ros, Mum, Jóhann Jóhannson. The best thing about Icelandic music is nothing ever feels phoned-in. No-one is ever just riding the latest bandwagon. Every single Icelandic artist I ever heard did something they clearly cared about and usually it'll end up pretty unique.

One of the most under-exposed Icelandic bands in recent years was Trabant. Making a noisy hyper-sexualised racket that sounded like Prince singing a Freddy Mercury number backed up by the Clash, yet they somehow never really caught on, even when Norman Cook picked up their debut album for Southern Fried. And this despite playing for the Icelandic president, as seen in this bizarre sequence from the fantastic Icelandic music documentary Screaming Masterpiece.

Human Woman is the new project from Trabant's Gisli Galdur Thorgeirsson, together with producer Jón Atli Helgason, and whilst it isn't quite as downright messy as Trabant it is still pretty fabulous. There is a lot melodic bass work and tight percussion here that calls to mind the baggy trousers of Madchester and the Stone Roses via Fujiya & Miyagi. As an album Human Woman blends this with some heavy electronics to make something that has moments of dubby, detailed introspection next to choruses and lyrics from a pop song, as demonstrated by the twisted mid-section of 'White Night'. That kind of combination could feelawkward but there are no such problems here.

There are moments that veer a little more in either direction but the overall album is well balanced. 'Einn Eftir', complete with strings and a jumble of drums, may be less dance floor focused but the production is still fantastically layered to make a complex sounding whole. 'Lazer & Magic' is stretched out and disorientating whilst 'DDDI' throbs and bristles with steely guitar strums and waves of distorted melodies.

Human Woman closes with 'Sleepy', a swirling cacophony of melody, before a neo-classical ghost track. It is a conclusion that highlights both similarities with Thorgeirsson's earlier work (ambition and an 'anything goes' attitude) and yet also contrasts greatly. You cannot help but miss some of the flamboyance and the scuffed edges of Trabant even though this is perhaps the more completely realised album.

Human Woman is out now on HFN, you can order it on on CD and LP (out of stock at time of writing) [affiliate link].