As 2019 draws to an end, we asked our music team for their personal highlights from this fabulously diverse year in Icelandic music.
It’s impossible to talk about this year in Icelandic music without first mentioning one name: Hildur Guðnadóttir, and her work on the HBO miniseries ‘Chernobyl’. Hildur’s ability to transform the silent and invisible—nuclear radiation—into savage, eerie frequencies is a feat. I’ll never forget the unsettling chords the moment the fireman grasped the graphite—I’m getting chills thinking about it!
Other than that, Une Misère’s ‘Sermon’ was an obvious standout, as was their Iceland Airwaves performance at the Reykjavik Art Museum. The band’s melange of hardcore/death/black metal has done what seemed impossible: it crossed over to the mainstream. They play at Prikið now for god’s sake! Next on the list, the debut of gugusar—a 15-year-old electric wunderkind—made me excited for the future of the scene as did the soothing piano works of Gabríel Ólafs. I stan. HJC
This was undoubtedly a defining year for Post-dreifing. The young D.I.T. (“do it together”) music and art collective has been pumping out more new music this past year than you can shake a stick at, with standout releases by the likes of Skoffín, GRÓA, sideproject, bagdad brothers, We Are Not Romantic, K.óla and many more. They also dominated the underground live scene and drew attention from international media.
On another note, as the resurgence of dark music keeps booming, Kælan Mikla and their synth-producer Sólveig Matthildur have kept soaring, opening for The Cure, touring extensively through North America and Europe, and securing their place in the modern goth cannon. RB
This year was a diverse one. The biggest standout, in my opinion, was the incredible collective success of Icelandic classical music. This was exemplified in the compilation album ‘Concurrence’ by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, which was conducted by the classical superstar, and former Grapevine cover star Daníel Bjarnason. There, you’ll find amazing work by artists like María Huld Markan, Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson and Anna Þorvaldsdóttir, who was recently nominated for a Grammy. When it comes to electronic music, Berlin-based techno-star Bjarki is an absolute standout with his album, ‘Happy Earthday.’ Sin Fang enjoyed a brilliant comeback in 2019 with his boyish and melancholic album ‘Sad Party,’ and Mr. Silla released a fantastic effort ‘Hands On Hands,’ which unfortunately slid under the radar but should have been one of the year’s biggest hits. VG
There are two albums this year that completely won my heart. First, I would like to mention Andavald’s absolutely breathtaking and devastating debut album ‘Undir Skyggðarhaldi.’ The insanely well-composed tremolo-picked guitar harmonies provide a fitting background for the vocals of pure despair. It’s authentic and gorgeous. The second album that deserves full attention is K.óla’s ‘Allt verður alltílæ.’ Every track on this album is a hit. They are incredibly well-written, well-produced and authentic pop hits that never get boring, no matter how often you listen. And believe me, because I have listened the s*** out of them. PUW
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