Albarn, Damon & Einar Orn Benediktsson : 101 Reykjavik

Gorillaz singer's low-key soundtrack

He’s jammed with tribesmen in west Africa. He’s masqueraded as a cartoon reggae-hop pop star. Now, he’s teamed up with pop eccentric Einar Örn Benediktsson to score a soundtrack for Icelandic yoof flick [I]101 Reykjavik[/I]. Damon Albarn’s pop muse is going through a collaborate-with-everyone mid-life crisis. It doesn’t, however, mean he’s got over his obsession with The Kinks. And for the benefit of younger readers, Einar Örn Benediktsson is the peculiar trumpet-wielding fellow who used to shout over Björk on Sugarcubes records.

Pieced together in a week, [I]101 Reykjavik [/I]is largely spontaneous electronic mood-music, played on melodica, sequencer, and yes, Einar’s trumpet. It only begins to grate when Albarn insists on reprising the tune to The Kinks’ ‘Lola’ – for the third time – in a skankin’ dub stylee.

But the real draw here is the handful of remixes from Icelandic luminaries: Emiliana Torrini swaddles ‘101 Reykjavik Theme’ in trippy ethereality; Curver splatters rather good Kid606-style distorto-drum’n’bass over the face of ‘Bar Beaten’; and Minus force-feeds ‘Bar Flight’ with liquor and pushes it into the pub-rock moshpit.

Doubtless, it all sounds fine in the film, but you can’t help wishing that Mr Albarn would stop arsing around and make some proper pop records again. Congrats, Damon, you really are a Jack of all trades. And you know what that means, don’t you?

Louis Pattison