This year, starting my internship at The Grapevine, I got to finally experience Reykjavík’s hectic and opulent music scene. As a result, I’m starting to add some Icelandic artists to my book of favourites. Here are five Icelandic Albums and Singles, released this year, that sugared my ears and broke my heart:
Halldór Eldjarn – ‘Poco Apollo’
Your body will know that this album was made for no reason other than celebrating its own existence, as it makes you calmly and confidently celebrate yours.
When I gave it a first listen I regretted not following my young desire to steal the school’s small xylophone. I want to believe it was my good behaviour that prevented me from being at the level of the brilliant xylophonist in this record. Halldór’s debut album is an instrumental, neo-classical, experimental and electronic masterpiece for warming the stomach and calming the soul. ‘Poco Apollo’ kept making my mind go back to my love of Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’, without all the suffering, especially in the track “Tunglryk” where the viola’s cry reminded me of Thom Yorke’s instrumentalized whining in “All I Need”.
Also, this is as futuristic as it gets. “Poco Apollo” is generated from pictures of the moon.
Here’s how great this album is, I’ve made up a fantasy scenario where it would come as the Deus ex machina of my will to live: I picture myself in a crowded and ugly city metro station, after a day of people yelling at me at my terrible job – uffff don’t worry this is totally not my real life, by the way, I love my job and live in Winter Wonderland. Anyway, in this fantasy, I would be in the most grotesque industrial urban scenario ever, and I would pop my headphones in and select “Poco Apollo” as my company. I would then have an epiphany and decide to move to the countryside of the moon, have a vegetable farm in a small fresh crater and live my true ruminative and lonesome truth.
But in all seriousness, ‘Poco Apollo’ is brilliant, ‘Poco Apollo’ is a storm contained in a crystal glass.
Ásta – ‘Sykurbað’
Listening to “Sykurbað” gives me the same feeling as touching a very old tree. Ásta is much more than a talented artist; she carries wisdom in her deep earthy tone but also often shows her virtuosity, never too abruptly. It’s lovely to see how words I don’t understand can sound so soft and clear in the mouth of Ásta.
The album begins with a short instrumental song that is literally called “upphaf (beginning)” and sets on a path of somber and honest acoustic songs. It’s just her and her water clear voice over a guitar. I got stuck to how her cry toned singing made me feel; deep into my creative wisdom, the one that Ásta, unwantedly, made think I have, thanks Ásta, I’m now delusional!
Mammút – ‘Forever on Your Mind’
This is such a powerful jam, this single is a head-banger, hand-waver, dream-induced instrumental over lyrics that won’t allow you to keep your hips still. Then again, it doubles as an angsty, somber and smart tune to listen to while you spend some sexy time with yourself. It then triples as an anthem to walk alone in an empty street to. During one of those nights when you’re feeling powerful and pensive, the type of evening where you don’t have your gloves on because you’re a grown woman and frostbite is fine because this song is so fire. I can’t wait for the album.
Gabríel Ólafs – ‘Absent Minded’
This album made me wish I wanted to wrote movies for a living. The script would suck but the soundtrack would be the best. I’m still trying to understand my newly acquired taste for classical music. I mean, I won’t complain, makes me look quite smart and leveled, but this album speaks more than one would expect from a voiceless piece. I want to take this album on a hike, I want to listen to ‘Floral hymn’ when I get home freezing and make a cup of coffee. I can genuinely and lunatically say I want “Absent Minded” to be the soundtrack for the rest of my days.
Biggi Hilmars -‘The last Igloo’
Biggi’s music is of a clear and somber beauty. This is what it would sound like if mountains made music and had great gigantic speakers. ‘The last Igloo’ sounds like an oath to the winter and the unique percussion and flows that are part of it. I could hear the wind, and the rain and even the stillness of the snow. I would listen to it in a winter roadtrip by myself. Then again, this album made me cry several times so maybe don’t listen and drive.
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!