Published November 28, 2014
Sóley’s latest outing, ‘Krómantík’, surprises. The EP departs from her usual pop-tinged songwriting, instead delivering a very short collection of ghostly piano music written for several art projects. It is in essence a multi-soundtrack album, and its title is an appropriate portmanteau that sandwiches together “chromatic” and “romantic.”
All of the tracks on this sixteen-minute EP revolve around an old piano, seemingly left to go out of tune and gather dust. Each piece channels composers known for their piano music, especially the late Romanticists of the 19th century, like Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev. “Stiklur” is winding and chromatic; “Kaósmúsik” and “Efterteiti” are macabre dances, not out of place in a Tim Burton film. The titular song “Krómantík” is a bit more familiar to contemporary ears, and it builds wordless vocals in layers. For those who read music, the sheet music images that appear in the liner notes will be a bonus, giving you a sense of Sóley’s working process.
While the distant, sometimes out-of-tune piano is evocative, it loses its mysterious charm rather quickly without additional visuals to accompany. These curious and clever piano miniatures are done a disservice when masked by reverb; “Stofuvals” is one of the least shadowy works, and one can notice the interesting harmonies and winding lines. It would be interesting to hear the pieces alternatively recorded on a clear, crisp piano, which would bring out Sóley’s unique compositional voice while still referencing their 19th century classical role models.
‘Krómantik’ is a good collection piece for those who may know of Sóley’s music, and evokes images of music halls past. But for those looking for a more substantial work, we await the next LP. For Sóley, whose previous works lay in a colorful area between genres, these tracks feel ghostly and pale.
Album released through Morr Music, 2014