Straumur: Snapshots Of Excellence - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Straumur: Snapshots Of Excellence

Straumur: Snapshots Of Excellence

Published August 17, 2015

Photos by
Thomas Humery

Straumur’s favourite electronic album of 2015 (so far), ‘Snapshots’ by Tonik Ensemble, was celebrated with a long-overdue release concert on August 6. Openers Asonat got people moving with their atmospheric trip-hop, which is nicely reminiscent of Björk’s early solo work. Ensemble mastermind Anton Kaldal Ágústsson then took the stage along with singer Hörður (of M-Band fame) and saxophone player Tumi (from Grísalappalísa), performing a set of soulful techno that runs deep into the unknown registers of human consciousness.

Tonik Ensemble is a unique act, with many distinguishing factors that set it apart. Case in point: the stage was notably free of Macs and other Apple products, which is refreshing for a scene that mostly consists of guys hunched over laptops. Instead, sounds were tweaked and samples set off in visible real time by Anton and Hörður using physical controllers, the show flowing like a smooth DJ mix with no pauses between tracks. Tumi’s eerie saxophone playing could only be described as Lynchian, and Hörður’s vocals sounded like they were floating in a vast ocean of manipulated melancholy. If we had hats, we would take ’em off for Tonik Ensemble’s live show—catch it if you can!

In other electronic news, Reykjavík musician Stefán Páll Ívarsson has been making a buzz of late, releasing a slew of great tracks as MSTRO. His latest offering, “All I See Is You” does not disappoint. The tune is an extremely great-sounding, left-leaning electronic pop gem, with the vocals in the chorus manipulated beyond recognition, giving a dark, somewhat stalkerly edge to the otherwise sentimental line “All I see is you.” We look forward for a full-length album from MSTRO, but until then head down to YouTube for the moody and dramatic video for “All I See Is You.”

Great songs keep hitting us from out of the blue these days. One such track recently popped up courtesy of one Hjalti Þorkelsson, formerly of the band Múgsefjun. “Mælum myrkrið út” (“Let’s Explore The Darkness”) is a delicate and well-constructed indie-pop ballad. The song itself is extremely catchy—in that low-key Shins-slash-Belle and Sebastian way—its lyrics a meditation on being a social outcast in times when “Those who own the world paint it in whichever colours they choose.”

Straumur © Nanna Dís 2013

Óli Dóri and Davíð Roach document the local music scene and help people discover new music at straum.is. It is associated with the radio show Straumur on X977, which airs every Monday evening at 23:00.

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