Culture
Music
Dark Music Days 2018: A Glimmer In The Darkness

Dark Music Days 2018: A Glimmer In The Darkness

Jessica Peng
Words by
Photos by
Timothée Lambrecq

Published January 5, 2018

In the dark Icelandic winter, music is a beacon of light and hope. Every January since 1980, the Dark Music Days festival has taken place in Harpa concert hall on the Reykjavík harbour. “Myrkir Músíkdagar” in Icelandic, the festival is a great place for music lovers to explore experimental contemporary music from both Iceland and abroad.

Gunnar Karel Masson, an Icelandic composer, has been the artistic director of the festival since June 2016. Gunnar also runs Sonic Festival, an experimental electronic music festival in Copenhagen. He is bringing his unique vision and influence to this year’s Dark Music Days.

Exploring boundaries

The festival’s focus this year is on compositions using mixed techniques, including electronics, acoustics and video. The use of mixed techniques provides a way to explore the boundaries of contemporary music. “For me electronics are an integral part of contemporary music, so I feel like they should be in every programme,” Gunnar says. According to Gunnar, electronics can include “synths, MAX/MSP, live electronics on computer.” He adds, “It can also just be amplification.”

“Dark Music Days will be a place where you can experience the trance of contemporary music.”

The festival includes a lot of Icelandic contemporary music, but it also absorbs elements from both sides of the Atlantic. “Riot Ensemble from the UK will present a really interesting programme,” says Gunnar. “They’ll be visiting us for the first time.” Iceland’s very own Nordic Effect is the ensemble in residence since 2016, and will be recurring until 2019. Some other regular contributors are the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra and Caput Ensemble. “The Trondheim Sinfonietta will also be visiting us with a couple of new pieces,” says Gunnar.

Another exciting part of the festival this year is the experimental DJ sets set to feature at two off-venue locales, Húrra and Mengi. The only confirmed DJ set as of now is by Icelandic artist Sóley. “For me it’s really important to get the music out to people who would probably not hear it normally,” Gunnar explains.

The trance

As a festival, Dark Music Days is eclectic, experimental and forward-thinking. “The goal is that Dark Music Days will be a place where you can experience the trance of contemporary music,” Gunnar says. His aim is to introduce foreign music to Icelandic audiences, as well as build more of a stable audience from overseas.

The festival had an open call for applications in spring 2016, and they received almost 300 applications from all over the world. “I got to know a lot of music that I wouldn’t get to know elsewhere,” Gunnar says. He hopes to continue this global approach for Dark Music Days.

Find out more about Dark Music days on their website.


Culture
Music
Artist Playlist: Acid, Berghain And CGI Vaporwave With Hermigervill

Artist Playlist: Acid, Berghain And CGI Vaporwave With Hermigervill

by

Hermigervill is Sveinbjörn Thorarinsson, an accomplished electronic musician, performer, producer, and ever-present Reykjavík scene mainstay. With some exciting new music

Culture
Music
Total Transcendance: Ólafur Arnalds Talks Programming Pianos, Subverting Genres And His New Album

Total Transcendance: Ólafur Arnalds Talks Programming Pianos, Subverting Genres And His New Album

by

The trademark of Ólafur Arnald’s music can best be described in the feelings it evokes: stirring, emotional, and perfect in

Culture
Music
Visiting The Family: Norðanpaunk Assembled Iceland’s Underground Scene

Visiting The Family: Norðanpaunk Assembled Iceland’s Underground Scene

by

There are very few events like Norðanpaunk. In fact, I’ve never been to one that even comes close. Norðanpaunk is

Culture
Music
The Birth Of The Pop Alien: Katrín Helga Evolves Into Special K

The Birth Of The Pop Alien: Katrín Helga Evolves Into Special K

by

Chances are, if you follow Icelandic music, you’ll have seen Katrín Helga Andrésdóttir. A founding member of Reykjavíkurdætur and Kriki,

Culture
Music
The Architect And The Engineer: Hugar Expand Their Horizons

The Architect And The Engineer: Hugar Expand Their Horizons

by

Remember when you were a child and the teacher would ask the class, “what do you want to be when

Culture
Music
Music News: President Bongo, Airwaves For Gender Equality, G Y D A’s Moonchild

Music News: President Bongo, Airwaves For Gender Equality, G Y D A’s Moonchild

by and

Acclaimed producer and DJ President Bongo—a former member of GusGus—has announced a new solo record. The release is the third

Show Me More!