The Sugarcubes are to Bjork as Genesis is to Peter Gabriel. While most people of
their respective generations were familiar with the work of the latter, a good
number of them were clued out about their involvement with the former. Although the world knew about
Bjork the day after the swan dress incident, word on the Sugarcubes is sparse.
The Sugarcubes seemed to be a group of art students who decided to form a band
of artists rather than a bona fide band. Like all bands of this ilk (Galaxie 500
and the Velvet Underground come to mind) the line forms to the right to poo-poo
the project. Also, like all bands of this ilk, the line forms to the left to
gush about them and act silly.
Although the band’s success was short lived (their debut album was released in
1988 and their third and final album came in 1992) they did leave an indelible
mark on the alternative music scene. After disbanding, Bjork gambled a quirky,
sexy, artsy package in a grunge-addicted world. Oddly enough, she won that bet.
If we are to believe the rumors, the chances of the world hearing anything from
the Sugarcubes in the future is right around nil. This, my friends, is most
likely the legacy of the Sugarcubes.
The Subarcubes: "Live Zabor"
“Live Zabor” is a concert film culled from shows the band performed in 1988 and
1989. It’s immediately obvious that the band is quirky, off kilter, and is, to
the best of their knowledge, incredibly charming. Of the 21 chapters on the DVD
(chapter 21 is mysteriously missing from my disc), six of them are labeled as
interview chapters. This title is a little misleading, as they are more like
freestyles by each member making a hardy attempt to be witty and/or deep. The
concert footage is good, and the sound is good, but there is something missing.
That is always easy to say when watching a concert DVD, but I think the missing
element is interaction. By the end of the concert, you do get to see someone
from the audience bum rush the show. A confused, standing wrestling match
ensued, but there was a startling lack of force and violence. Look for their
hits: “Birthday,” “Delicious Demon,” and “Motorcrash,” along with critical
favorites like “Cat” and “Planet.”
The Subarcubes: "The DVD"
“The DVD” is a compilation of all the Sugarcubes’ videos that I am aware of.
There are a few surprise inclusions, including an Icelandic version of
“Birthday” and a song called “Luftgitar” that I had never heard of (this song
also makes an appearance on “Live Zabor”). I watched this video after watching
“Live Zabor” and found something interesting. One of the more annoying things
about the Sugarcubes’ first album was the incessant inclusion of Einar
Benediktsson’s vocals. In 1989, I tried to tell myself that it was not annoying,
it was artsy. Sixteen years later, I realize that it was just annoying. The
videos are all actually really good, and the Icelandic version of “Birthday”
makes this a DVD worth shelling out the cash for. Noticeably lacking on both
DVD’s are extras. Since these two DVD’s encompass what is most likely all that
will ever be released on the band, it seems only fair to ask for more content:
interviews, bios and the like. On both discs, no such info exists.
It’s a shame that the catalog of such a great band can be reasonably condensed
to fit into a space the size of a large type paperback, but that is the case
with the Sugarcubes. These two DVD’s and three albums are all we have, but they
definitely sound as hip now as they did then.