From Iceland — Track By Track: ‘MMXVI’ by Nicolas Kunysz

Track By Track: ‘MMXVI’ by Nicolas Kunysz

Published May 3, 2018

Track By Track: ‘MMXVI’ by Nicolas Kunysz
Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Ómar Sverrisson

From ambient drone to experimental electronic to random samples taken off the street, musician Nicolas Kunysz is known for his eclectic and immersive soundscapes. The Belgian-born Reykjavík transplant has become a force in the Icelandic music scene, founding Prikið’s monthly lowercase nights and co-founding Lady Boy Records.

He’s about to drop a new EP, ‘MMXVI’, on May 13th, though he hints it could unexpectedly come out earlier. We sat down with the artist to talk about the new work.

About the album itself:

The name of the EP is the result of one of my favourite hobbies: hitting the “random button” on Wikipedia. That actually relates pretty well to the way I make music in general. The whole EP is a collage of various moments, travels, concerts and simple banal times. The reason I put these together is unclear, but I just did. Somehow, I find things that happen more interesting than things I decide to make happen. (Tibetan “Ooommm” singing in the background.)

1. While Seated

I love to sit, listen and observe things around me. I often sample and manipulate surrounding sounds as they happen. ‘While Seated’ is a good example of that process.

“The name of the EP is the result of one of my favorite hobbies: hitting the ‘random’ button on Wikipedia.”

I started recording and playing around on a plane from Reykjavík to Brussels when going on a tour and kept on doing so until the first concert I had in Ljubljana. Sounds of traffic, babies crying, the stewardess’s voice in the plane, etc. gave me chapters and structure to build this song.

2. Vanessa

This is another travel song, I started the song in Croatia while I was heading to a gig in Slovenia. When I arrived, I was late and lost, but I sat and recorded some kids playing before finally finding my way to the venue. I then used those recordings during the gig, ending the show with the sound of a Mother saying something that sounds like “Vanessa”. I was later told that it means something like “it’s over/it’s enough” in Croatian. which was surprisingly spot on to end the gig with. Again, randomness is a great tool.

3. Blau Space

The skeleton of this track is field recordings from one of those afternoons in Prikið—one of those grey, quiet, ‘cotton cloud weather’ days. These recordings were then blended with excerpts of the live gig I had later that day at Paloma.

The song has some strange oscillations that create a dialogue with the field recordings of chatters and people, which gave the name “Blau Space”—a multidimensional coordinate system using socio-demographic variables as dimensions.

4. List of Films

‘List of Films’ is an excerpt of a live gig I played in Hjalteyri’s old factory during Ymur Festival. It sounds like some of my more noisy tracks somehow but that is probably what happens when you play in a huge concrete building.

The title comes from simply another round of me hitting the random button on Wikipedia until I find something sound. It was supposed to be ‘List of Films: A’ at first, but some online services would not let me use that spelling for some reason.

4. He is not sad, he just likes to be alone

I used to be that one kid reading a book at the playground while the others played football. This track is just like that: a simple moment of enjoyable loneliness. No attack, simple loops decaying. Happiness is overrated.

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