Live Footage: Fufanu Live on KEXP

Over the past couple of months here, I’ve written quite a bit about the Reykjavik, Iceland-based indie rock/post-punk trio Fufanu. The trio, which is currently comprised of founding members Kaktus Einarsson (vocals, guitar), whose father Einar, was a member of The Sugarcaubes and Guðlaugur “Gulli” Einarsson (guitar, programming) (no relation, by the way) along with Erling Bang (drums) can trace their origins to when the band’s founding members met while at school. According to the band’s founding duo, Katkus had glanced at Gulli’s iTunes and noticed that they had listened to a lot of the same techno and electronic music. And after quickly bonding over mutual interests, the duo went into a studio and began writing and recording electronic music under the name Captain Fufanu. Within a month of their formation, Kaktus Einarsson and Gulli Einarsson had started playing shows in and around Reykjavik.

Building on a growing local profile, the duo went into the studio to record what would be their full-length debut as Captain Fufanu; but in a strange twist of fate, the studio where Kaktus Einarsson and Gulli Einarsson had recorded the album was burgled. And as a result, the album was presumed lost. Instead of trying to recall the material they initially wrote from memory, Kaktus Einarsson and Gulli Einarsson decided that the moment was a perfect time for them to completely reinvent their sound. Interestingly, as that happened, Katkus was in London working on Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots and touring with Bobby Womack when he began writing lyrics. Simultaneously Gulli had started to create a revised sound, which according to Kaktus Einarsson managed to coney exactly what he had been thinking. The duo then added guitars and drums, along with Kaktus’ brooding and detached vocals — and with their revised sound, renamed themselves Fufanu.

Their first live set with their new sound and aesthetic was at Iceland Airwaves and they quickly became one of the most talked about bands of the entire festival. Building upon the buzz they had received, they went into the studio their full-length debut A Few More Days To Go. And with the release of their debut, the duo received a rapidly growing national and international profile as they toured with a number of internationally renowned acts including  The Vaccines  and have played at JaJaJa Festival. With their recently released sophomore effort Sports, Kaktus and Gulli recruited Erling “Elli” Bang (drums) to further flesh out their sound as they expanded upon it and its thematic direction.

Now, you may recall that I’ve written about the first two singles off the Icelandic trio’s   recently released sophomore effort Sports  — the album’s title track “Sports,” which  retained the synth-driven sound that first captured national and international attention while pairing it with a tight, motorik-like groove reminiscent of CanNeu!  Joy Division and early ’80s Peter Gabriel (in particular, think of Peter Gabriel 3 and Security) along with live instrumentation, which gives the material both an organic feel and a forcefulness — and “Liability,” which while continuing in a similar vein was a bit more slow-burning. Both singles possessed a murky and enigmatic air, they point at the soul-crushing mundanity and drudgery of daily life but just under the surface there’s the  broiling frustration and resentment of someone who’s desperate to break free — and not sure how to do so without some recrimination.

Last year, the members of the band were on KEXP and the set included live versions of “Circus Life” and “Now” off their full-length debut Few More Days to Go along with “Sports” and then-unreleased single “Bad Rockets” off the recently released Sports.  And while being fairly straightforward renditions of the material, the KEXP set will give you a sense of their intense and live set, a live set that frequently includes Kaktus Einarsson storming, strutting and stomping about the stage, alternating between being menacing and playful and so on. During this set, Kaktus throws his monitor headphones off his head and on to the floor, to headbang and stomp about as Gulli plays a furious and blistering solo. Just from this particular footage, I’m hoping that the Icelandic act will play a set or two here in NYC.