Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, March 1, 2000. (In Cinequest San Jose Film Festival.) Original title: Popp i Reykjavik. Running time: 103 MIN.
With: Bang Gang, Bellatrix, Botnleoja, Curver, DJ Addi, Ensimi, Gus Gus, Hringir, Magga Stirina, Maus, Moa, Pall Oskar & Casino, Quarashi, Sigurros, Slowblow, Spitsign, Stjornukisi, Stolia, Subbterranian, Surefni, Svanur, Vector, Vinill.
A slick look at Iceland’s diverse underground music scene, “Pop in Reykjavik” is a performance-heavy docu that could attract curious new-sound seekers in offshore specialty-theatrical or tube play.
Though hardly a sizable burg by most standards, Reykjavik has become a hub of youthful musical activity since the Sugarcubes and breakaway soloist Bjork made a late-’80s splash. Neither is seen here, though current highest-profile act Gus Gus displays its disturbing, trancey sounds at pic’s close. Lesser-knowns run a stylistic gamut from grunge (Maus) to riot grrl (Bellatrix), jungle (DJ Addi), rap (Subbterranian), punk (Botnleoja), hard-core (Spitsign), slow-core (Svanur), wacky New Wave (Hringir) and experimental noise (Curver). Most promising at first listen is Sigurros, whose spectral psychedelia recalls Radiohead. There’s little startling originality here, and some outright imitation (of the Beastie Boys and Bjork), but sheer variety ensures few dull spots. MTV-ish band interview segments and flippant commentary from local personality Pall Oskar, aka Paul Oscar (whose tour of “the world’s most desperate night life” includes a strip club) punctuate performance segs, which were mostly shot at titular grand-scale 1999 concert. Lensing, editing, sound recording and other tech aspects are first-rate.