Published December 11, 2013
Don’t call this experimental. A common misnomer in contemporary classical music is the term “experimental.” If there is anything experimental about composer Daníel Bjarnason’s newest record ‘Over Light Earth’ it is the listener’s ability to experiment with preconceived expectations of classical music. This record is intentional, poignant, and brimming with profound vision. It is unflinching, and simultaneously unpretentious.
‘Over Light Earth’ marks Daníel’s third release and second solo album on the Reykjavík-based Bedroom Community label. While Bedroom Community is certainly host to a tour de force roster of artists, with a reputation for a vibrant collaborative work philosophy, this record truly maintains its own voice. Moving from flurried rushing intensity, to drifting breath–like passages, notes hang in air as if thrown up–not to be placed, but rather to hear their structural fall. See “Solitudes IV. Selge Ruh.”
The record is comprised of three distinct pieces or movements: Over Light Earth, Emergence, and Solitudes. The title movement was commissioned by the LA Philharmonic for their 2013 season. The arc connecting the music is as ethereal as light itself–a sonic nebula harbouring each individual piece without necessarily defining it. Similarly there is a microscopic/macroscopic relationship existing between each instrument and its overall composition. While this seems like an obvious desired outcome for any recording, it is accomplished here by close-miking each individual instrument: a fairly unconventional technique in orchestral music. The outcome is a fascinatingly intimate listening experience with stunning result.
This work sees Daníel at a new high in his already remarkable career. The more the listener engages with this work the more they will ultimately get out of it. While this record may not be for the faint of heart or casual listen, the time invested is immensely rewarding.