Published August 4, 2015
While Straumur of course live in the great city of Reykjavík, we sometimes make it out into the country. Recently, one half of Straumur’s editorial board took a trip to the East of Iceland, where he attended two local music festivals.
One of the LungA arts festival’s main workshops this year focused on the creation of electronic music. After a week of intensive music making, the fruits of the workshoppers’ labours were proudly premiered at a concert in the beautiful Seyðisfjörður church. The gig showcased about fifteen different electro acts, ranging from synth-poppy meditations on French kissing under cherry trees to experimental sound sculptures constructed from field recordings that the crew made around Seyðisfjörður. Very promising indeed. As always, LungA closed with a big concert by the Seyðisfjörður docks, where the organisers had constructed a minimal, makeshift stage, decorating the area with an eccentric mix of a warm colours and cold industrial edges.
At the show, dj. flugvél og geimskip got the crowd busy with her hypernaive Casio weird-pop. After her satisfying performance, mystery group Gangly performed live for the first time ever, instantly demonstrating that they are a force to be reckoned with. On stage, their strangely alien beats and manipulated vocals work together in an exact, imperfectly harmonious manner that’s downright infectious. After Gangly’s set, Keflavík pop-punksters Æla stormed the concert area to stage an impromptu, surprise concert, blasting their punk rock out of a car as singer Halli Valli came running out of nowhere.
Post-Æla, Reykjavíkurdætur kept the crowd engaged with their wolfpack stage performance and choice rhymes. Grísalappalísa then proceeded to rock everyone’s world, with vocalist Gunnar Ragnarsson’s insane on-and-off-stage performance driving their message home. Electro pop-group Sykur then closed off a successful festival, performing mostly new material that left us excited for their upcoming album.
The other East Iceland festival that we attended was Bræðslan, which is held annually in the tiny village of Borgarfjörður Eystri (pop. ca. 100), right on the north-east edge of Iceland, about as far away from the capital as you can get without crossing the North Atlantic. Bræðslan’s big draw is its ever-intimate main concert, set in an abandoned fishery. This year’s line-up sported acts like Prins Póló, Lára Rúnars, Valdimar, Ensími and Bubbi Morthens (appearing alongside hard rock group Dimma). The show saw every band performing at its best, with Prins Póló’s effortless charm providing a personal highlight.
As for new Icelandic music, we have been listening non-stop to Japanese Super Shift’s latest effort, ‘Double Slit Album’. Released exactly one year after its predecessor, ‘47’, ‘Double Slit Album’ is Stefnir Gunnarsson’s third album under the Japanese Super Shift moniker, and his strongest to date. Album highlights include playful electro-pop standard “2AM” and “Dreadful Moments,” with its steady beat and a catchy as hell chorus, where Stefnir sings: “What have I done now, so typically me,” over and over.
What you have done, Stefnir, is this: you made a great pop record. Go get your copy of ‘Double Slit Album’ at their bandcamp site.
Óli Dóri and Davíð Roach document the local music scene and help people discover new music at straum.is. It is associated with the radio show Straumur on X977, which airs every Monday evening at 23:00.