Trows rockin’ and rollin’, joking and telling stories, oh my! Icelandic micro-label Smit Records released Kraftgalli’s adventurous three track EP ‘Trítill’ on vinyl last autumn. Trítlar, or trows, are mysterious, mischievous fairies or spirits from the folklore of the Orkney Islands. They’re small and shy, only leaving their habitats at night to enter people’s homes as they sleep. There are tales of them kidnapping musicians, or luring them into their dens. It seems like multi-tasking artist and musician Arnljótur Sigurðsson is certainly one of those lured, and he shares this adventure on his ‘Trítill’ EP, made under the pseudonym Kraftgalli.
Arnljótur is a well-known musical mastermind, and has been delving into trows since he was visited by some, who climbed into his subconscious. “I dreamt there were trows coming out of a wall in a procession,” he recounts, his eyes glimmering. “They were neither happy nor upset, and waved their hands to say hello.”
“At the time I was making sound-poetry and wordplay, which are sort of wormholes in language,” he continues. “I felt like it fit nicely with the trows. They love to sing, dance, drink and party, and they appeared to me through some kind of a wormhole.”
Hold the door
Arnljótur felt a duty to document their visit, and the result is the ‘Tritill’ EP and a collection of drawings. “I had to document it,” he says. “If I hadn’t they might not have stuck around.” He channeled the trows when making the music. They seem like playful and dionysian beings. The EP begins with them rockin’ and rollin’, then they start to play with words before a hip-hop-happening storytime finale.
Arnljótur’s live performance of the songs is an ethnological journey that brings the trows’ presence full circle. It tells the tale of their arrival, revealing where they come from and how they act and play. He essentially gives them a gateway to us, too. That is perhaps how the doorway between trows and people has remained open over time.
Icelandic nature and its mythical creatures (elves, trolls, et cetera) are often credited as an inspiration for Icelandic music. “I’ve written poetry about nature, but I haven’t felt it inspiring my musical ventures per se,” smiles Arnljótur. “But, to my own surprise, I’m now making music about the trows.”
Arnljótur’s depiction of the trows is certainly a fun ride. With ‘Trítill,’ he invites us to joke with them, party and dance with them, and get a glimpse of our world through their eyes. His drawings of the creatures form another portal between our world and theirs. “People can get a couple of trows to hang up in their homes,” he says. “Then they can appear from their walls just as they appeared to me. I also make sure to feed them—maybe I give them Smarties, landi, pilsner and such. Once I gave them tuna salad and peppermint oil, which I thought would be a strange combination.”
“It’s important to keep the trows on your good side,” he finishes. “When they visit a place they need a bit of food in their bellies so they won’t get mad, or hit you on the head, giving you a bald spot.”
Kraftgalli will perform on February 8th at 18:15 at Kópavogskirkja with a visual performance in the volcanic rocks; he also plays at Mengi on February 14th. Get the ‘Trítill’ EP via smitrecords.bandcamp.com.