This debut solo album takes in country-blues (The Silence Of The Night) , a kinda hoedown rock (Freeze-out) and purer, Donovan-ish folk (Carol, She’s A Meadow) in its flighty meander through familiar, non-groundbreaking but undoubtedly excellent songwriting. This is the kind of thing McCartney would dash off before breakfasting on weed sandwiches and writing songs about frogs and pipes of peace; something like Don’t Let Her the kind of sound that Lennon would sing to himself staggering down the street drunk. It occasionally misses the mark (Gone would be better to take its own advice). But let’s face it; there are worse influences to have than The Beatles, and whether lovelorn stomp or wistful slap-back FX and sparse acoustica Helgason just about gets it right more than wrong.
Sóley’s latest outing, ‘Krómantík’, surprises. The EP departs from her usual pop-tinged songwriting, instead delivering a very short collection of ghostly piano music written for several art projects. It is in essence a multi-soundtrack album, and its title is an appropriate portmanteau that sandwiches together “chromatic” and “romantic.” All of the tracks on this sixteen-minute EP revolve around an old piano, seemingly left to go out of tune and gather dust. Each piece channels composers known for their piano music, especially the late Romanticists of the 19th century, like Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev. “Stiklur” is winding and chromatic; “Kaósmúsik” and
‘To Them We Are Only Shadows’ is the latest album from veteran Icelandic musicians Worm Is Green, a band celebrating its fourteenth year of operation. The group uses electronics and samples along with vocals, drum pads, and bass to create a blend of austere textures, often with trip-hop influences. On ‘Shadows’, we hear a wide range of shifting moods, sometimes even abruptly within individual tracks. Nearly unaccompanied vocals might pause for a moment before choruses of synths enter; some glitchy beats might follow, only to conclude with a bass line and backup harmonies. ‘…Shadows’ also offers a surprising dryness; there
What Kvöl’s new EP lacks in musicality is made up for in character. The Reykjavík-based post-punk band, which counts noted “Salvation Soldier” Þórir Georg as a member, released their hazy four-song debut this past July. The album is dark and New Wave in aesthetic, constituted by programmed 808-style drumbeats; groggy, doubled guitar lines; and indistinct lead vocals. The reverb is cavernous and plentiful, yet analogue in nature. The occasional synth pad makes an appearance, grounded by bass lines that sound as if they were played through a guitar into broken recording equipment. Each of the EP’s four songs bear meaningful
From start to finish, Grúska Babúska’s wobbly, otherworldly self-titled debut is a pleasure to experience. There is something definitively narrative and theatrical about the ten-song collection, whose eclectic instrumentation includes flute, ukulele, guitar, synth, melodica, music box and a range of pitched percussion. The theatrical nature of the record derives from the constant starting, stopping, and resetting that punctuates each of the songs, resulting in a rare disturbing—yet captivating—listening experience. The arrangements are masterfully crafted, and chaotically layered without feeling crowded or pretentious. The record’s opening track, “Slagarinn,” begins with a minimal synth line, building in texture and dynamic with
BÖRN’s self-titled début is what some of us have been desperately waiting for: an album that properly echoes the misery of living in Reykjavík. Unlike mediocre bands who sing their happy tunes in broken English—with heavy doses of repetitive claps and heys!—BÖRN manage to portray Reykjavík as it really is. It’s neither cute nor civilized; it is in fact a typical Icelandic podunk backwater town (“krummaskuð”) on steroids. Gray, wet and windy. This Reykjavík death punk band initially called themselves NORN (“WITCH”), and in 2011 released a self-titled cassette of some rather noteworthy tunes. When a local black metal band
I found myself six tracks into Hugar’s self-titled instrumental debut before realizing that the first song had ended. This could mean one of two things: either the lack of lyrical stimulation reaching my brain sent me into an inert mental state, or the neo-classical duo, consisting of producer-instrumentalists Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson, has achieved the type of cohesion that we are so rarely afforded in today’s single-obsessed musical dominion. I choose the former. The band’s website explains that after “many years in all kinds of different bands,” the two of them started putting together demos in 2012 that eventually