If, like us, you were taken with the doom-laden sounds of Finland’s Grave Pleasures (formerly know as Beastmilk), then Icelandic post-punks Fufanu should be right up your malevolent alley.
The origins of the two apocalyptic post-punks might be somewhat different – Beastmilk’s roots are firmly embedded in Scandinavia’s extreme metal scene, whilst Fufanu owe more to techno and electronic music, and ‘70s and ‘80s European dance – but their music share a similar gothic magnetism, and comparably retro yet futuristic tones.
“All music that’s not shit has influenced us at one point or another,” singer Kaktus Einarsson explains. “We didn’t want to reach anyone specific. We just wrote music that pleased us. We had been doing this electronic project for five years before the change to a live band happened, and all of a sudden we had a crowd. We’d never had that before, and to find people that like what you’re doing is of course an added bonus. But we don’t have any crowd that we want to please.”
That unashamedly punk attitude extends to the stage. “Do you want to move closer to the band? Or do we have to move the equipment closer to you,” was how the enigmatic frontman greeted the crowd at their most recent show in London. Needless to say, everyone approached without hesitation, for the singer exudes pure charisma and command. During the course of the set, over the claustrophobic, menacing riffs and pulsating, jagged rhythms created by his equally beguiling cohorts, he controlled the eclectic crowd in attendance like an Icelandic crossbreed of Ian Curtis and Iggy Pop. But nothing about the band is derivative; the dark and powerful soundscapes they create are unique.
“I think the reason people like us is because they’re curious,” says Kaktus, “and because they haven’t heard anything like it before. They want to know what’s happening in our music. And maybe we are different, you know. Maybe, coming from a small isolated country like Iceland, we’re acting like total hillbillies who aren’t really aware of the larger culture.”
Indeed, there is something otherworldly Fufanu – the name itself is “a made up word to sum up our made up world” – and that’s what makes their music so convincing. Their sound is reminiscent of illustrious British post-punk bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus, but they’re not consciously striving to sound like those bands, and as a result they sound nothing like the surplus of second-rate acts that have tried (and failed) to emulate them over the years. You see, Fufanu don’t need to try to be weird. They just are. That was apparent from the first time we saw them perform live supporting The Vaccines at a small showcase gig last year, where they scared all the indie scenesters shitless.
“When we played those shows with The Vaccines,” Kaktus begins, “the crowds were just really young girls and their dads, and they were staring at us like we were aliens. They had no idea what we were doing up there. So I started throwing water at them, and I think that was the trigger for them to remember our show. We just want to have a good time on stage. That’s all we care about. We’re in it for ourselves, and no one else.”
That zero-fucks-given approach to making music is precisely what makes them so endearing, and the strength of material on their debut album Few More Days To Go merely hints at the well of compelling songs dwelling deep inside their collective creative minds. From the angular alternative rock of Blinking and the scathing synthpop of Plastic People, to the gloomy lament of Circus Life, and the garage rock cool of Goodbye, the album is a multi-layered master class in discordant reverberation, hypnotic melodies, and sweeping emotions.
No wonder, then, that everyone from Bo Ningen to Brian Eno is already a fan. But none of that matters to Kaktus, and if you think some modicum of success or praise from his peers is likely to go to his head any time soon, think again. He’s a simple man with simple goals, as the Icelandic agitator explains.
“The dream for this band is to continue playing live in venues that can deliver our music in the correct way. If that comes true, then I’m happy.”
Go see them live and fall under their spell.
Fufanu’s album Few More Days To Go is out now on One Little Indian. The band will tour the UK in late February. For more information, visit their Facebook page.