Like fellow Icelander Bjork, the self-taught singer/songwriter Mugison is all over the musical map, channeling a childhood spent isolated from popular music into a musical vernacular that is solely his own.
Mugison’s first two albums, 2003’s Lonely Mountain
and 2005’s Mugimama: Is This Monkey Music?
ran the gamut from screeching electronic noise to ballads syrupy enough to bring irony into the conversation. Whatever the intent, those two releases established him as a genuine star in his native Iceland, and something of a musical curiosity in the United States. Mugiboogie
offers more of Mugison’s idiosyncratic take on pop music, this time filtered through the lens of a more traditional rock sensibility.
Mugison’s trademark as an artist has been the continual development of his sound. On previous albums he was the entire band, but Mugison’s muse took him in an entirely different direction this time: the classic rock 'n' roll record. Retreating to a remote fishing village, he ditched electronics and the go-it-alone ethos in favor of flesh-and-blood bandmates. Some traits haven't changed: The result is undeniably original, sometimes hard to listen to, but always interesting. Mugison’s interpretation of rock 'n' roll lands somewhere between Ryan Adams and the Pixies, with extended instrumental interludes that highlight his singularity as an artist.
There’s not really a definite answer for whether Mugison's experiments with rock are successful and whether the album works; he's working with a vocabulary that isn’t common in pop music. While there are familiar melodic phrases in the songs and Mugison for the most part utilizes classic rock instrumentation, parts of Mugiboogie are beamed in from a plain of weirdness reserved for Icelandic musicians. The music may not always be easily accessible, but it is almost always interesting.