By the time this issue hits the streets, we will be halfway through the fourteenth edition of the Iceland Arwaves festival. At the day of publication, Friday November 7, Straumur will be hosting an off-venue show at the independent cinema Bíó Paradís, where Vorhees, Sin Fang and Unknown Mortal Orchestra will perform (in that order!) from 16:15-19:00. Later that same day, we will also be hosting an official Airwaves show at Gaukurinn (starting at 20:00) where, among others, Oyama, Strigaskór Nr. 42, Black Bananas and Fufanu will grace the stage. The off-venue in Bíó Paradís continues throughout the weekend during the daytime, so be sure to drop by.
Iceland Airwaves always sort of feels like it marks the beginning of a new year on the musical calendar, with many musicians timing their releases around the festival. For your benefit, we’ve sifted through a lot of quality music in the past month, checking out all that new stuff. Here are some of the highlights!
The debut LP from the duo of Ólafur Arnalds and Bloodgroup’s Janus is full of beautifully rendered tracks that draw from techno, ambient and neo-classical. Merging the organic, analogue and digital, the album deftly navigates extended grooves and subtle melodic swifts with great assurance. The best songs remind us quite a bit of Jon Hopkins’s excellent ‘Immunity’—not a small compliment.
The latest single from Reykjavík techno-popsters Sykur is a bouncy upbeat electro romp that slows down the tempo midway in the chorus, which strangely makes it all the more infectious.
Singapore Sling—‘The Tower Of Foronicity’
Singapore Sling is the leatherclad, shades-wearing dark horse of the Reykjavík rock scene, staring with apathy into the ether to the soundtrack of their blaring feedback-laden drones. This album is one of their most lo-fi yet, and mixes surging guitars with swaggering rockabilly and a cool so effortless and full of hateful contempt that it permeates every inch of the album.
Oyama just released their debut long player last week, it’s called ‘Coolboy’ and it’s a masterpiece of dreamy pop, pedal laden rock freakouts and impeccable songcraft.
Muted—‘Special Place’ EP
The left field-leaning producer Muted is releasing the excellent EP ‘Special Place’, whose title song features Jófríður Ákadóttir (Samaris, Pascal Pinon) on vocals, sounding like the faded whisperings of a young Björk. The EP sports two excellent remixes from Ruxpin and M-Band, and a couple more instrumental songs in the vein of the experimental electronica from the Brainfeeder label.
Grísalappalísa—“Strax í dag”
Postpunk pranksters Grísalappalísa just released a cover of “Strax í dag,” by one of Iceland’s most beloved pop groups: Stuðmenn. Their treatment is true to the spirit of the original, although a lot rougher around the edges.
Straumur has been active since the summer of 2012, with writers Óli Dóri and Davíð Roach documenting the local music scene and helping people discover new music at straum.is. It is associated with the radio show Straumur on X977, which Óli Dóri hosts every Monday evening at 23:00.