The thing with drones is that they don’t exactly move about very musically do they? So it’s a little discombobulating that Bruce Brubaker’s piano playing features so spritely across the length of this EP. It isn’t bad. It’s just discombobulating. The clue is in the title really. The piano is distinct from the drones rather than complementary as you would normally expect from drone music where everryytthhhiiiinnngggg mmoooooovvveeeesss slllllooooowwwwllllly. Furthermore, it also seems as though Brubaker is being “helped” with his playing by an annoying child who keeps trying to haphazardly hammer on the piano keys. It’s kinda cute at first, but then it just becomes tiresome. The deal with aberrations or shocks is that they’re strengthened by their infrequency, but they are all too frequent here. It detracts from the whole, which is frustrating because this EP is enjoyable, but it could be more so. That said, at least Nico is doing something a little different with a predominantly homogeneous genre and it will be interesting to see the territory that the two other releases in his “Drones” series explore.
Not A Fan – Bogi Bjarnason Rating: – For someone whose life revolves around metal, trying to get through an entire Skálmöld album in one sitting is like subjecting yourself to Chinese water torture. Throughout the whole, endless run-time, the only thing I could think was, “What did those poor instruments ever do to you guys?” When the choruses kicked in, I was left wondering if Einar Bárðarson—or whoever is behind this marketing ploy—had not fully understood the results his “define: metal” Google search. Basically, the utter dreck coming out of my speakers sounds like the whole album was mixed
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