Subtle to the point of sleepy, there’s very little payoff for those willing to wade through the entirety of Hildur’s hypnotic refrains. Hints of cello sprinkled through a sea of ethereal voices, ‘Leyfðu ljósinu’ is minimalism at its most minimal. Nothing approaches melody—but then again, nothing has to. This isn’t just background music; it’s sonic wallpaper. And as anyone knows, by the time you’ve started discussing the wallpaper, the party is officially dead.
In an age where the proliferation of home recording tools means everyone’s a musician at the push of a button, it’s nice to see a bit of ambition. Classically trained and able to hang with the cool kids (Animal Collective, múm, Throbbing Gristle), cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir brings a level of sophistication back to the art. As though capturing a continuous stream of thought, Hildur recorded ‘Leyfðu ljósinu’ live to tape at the Music Research Centre at the University of York, and presented it as a continuous 40-minute-long track. This would be well and good if Hildur had anything to say, but are we really at the point where we’re ready to honour the mere absence of editing as a sign of sophistication?