A quartet of bratty minimalists featuring future Sugarcubes Einar örn (vocals) and Bragi Olafsson (bass), Purrkur Pillnikk was the most successful band formed in the early-’80s days of Iceland’s post-punk revolution. Although together for only seventeen months, the group recorded lots of material, hit the Icelandic Top 10 with its first album and even toured England with the Fall, their most obvious musical influence.
There’s more spit than wit on the teenage group’s early releases. The 1981 debut, a ten-song 7-inch released on Gramm (a label co-founded by Einar), was recorded less than a month after the group was formed and sounds it. Ekki enn is a distinct improvement; Einar’s robust haranguing (a kind of Arctic Circle version of Mark E. Smith) is underscored with pithy, scrappy guitar riffs that rarely outstay their Pink Flag-style welcome, although the songs — all seventeen of ’em — do blur together after awhile.
On Googooplex (issued as a pair of 12-inch 45s), Purrkur Pillnikk finally hits its musical stride, fortifying that spiky riffing with catchy, angular melodies and locomotive improvising. Einar even sings, after a fashion, in spots. Unfortunately, following a second 7-inch EP (with English lyrics) a few months later, the group broke up. The posthumous Maskinan is a ragged-but-righteous live album that captures both the spirit of the band and the Icelandic scene which it helped create.