One of Iceland's longest-running and most eclectic electronic acts, GusGus' evolving sound and revolving lineup are anchored by singer/songwriter Daniel Ágúst Haraldsson and producer Birgir Þórarinsson. Since their emergence in the mid-'90s, the group's music has combined and recombined trip-hop, house, techno, trance, and more, while releases on esteemed labels like 4AD and Kompakt as well as their own imprints have sustained their profile through the 2010s.
Formed as a cinema collective in early 1995 by filmmakers Stefán Árni Þorgeirsson and Sigurður Kjartansson, the group expanded to include musicians such as DJ Magnús Guðmundsson (aka Herb Legowitz) and Þórarinsson, who had previously worked together in the minimal house project T-World, as well as singer/songwriters Haraldsson, Hafdís Huld Þrastardóttir, and Magnús Jónsson, and producer Baldur Stefánsson. This version of GusGus self-released its self-titled debut album in 1995. Among a handful of groups in the mid-'90s with access to dance circles as well as the indie community, GusGus gained support from LFO (with Mark Bell's remix of "Believe") and one of London's most celebrated DJ stores, Fat Cat Records, while playing its first date in England. The band signed to 4AD, who released Polydistortion -- which included ten of the songs from GusGus in remixed form -- in 1997. The more song-oriented and house-rooted This Is Normal followed in 1999. After that album's release, filmmakers Þorgeirsson and Kjartansson left GusGus to form the production company Arni & Kinski. GusGus vs. T-World, which focused on Guðmundsson and Þórarinsson's early work, appeared the following year. It was the group's last release with 4AD.
By the time of 2002's Moonshine release Attention, GusGus had slimmed down to a quartet that included vocalist Earth (Urður Hákonardóttir) and an appropriately focused sound based in acid house and electro. Mixed Live appeared a year later, and the group returned with new material in 2007, funneling its mix of acid-inspired synths and streamlined dance tracks into Forever, released on its own Pineapple label. GusGus then linked with the Kompakt label for a period during which its membership was reduced to a trio and ultimately swelled into a quintet. While with the Cologne, Germany-based label, GusGus released the sprawling 24/7 (2009), the relatively song-oriented Arabian Horse (2011), and, after Birgir Þórarinsson gained additional notice for his production work on John Grant's Pale Green Ghosts, Mexico (2014). In 2016, GusGus became the duo of Daniel Ágúst Haraldsson and Þórarinsson. After spending a couple of years touring, writing, and remixing, they returned with their tenth album. Half songs featuring Haraldsson's vocals and half instrumentals, Lies Are More Flexible arrived in 2018 via the duo's Oroom label. ~ John Bush