From Iceland — Grapevine Playlist: Tómas Welding, Ægir, Aron Can, Countess Malaise & More!

Grapevine Playlist: Tómas Welding, Ægir, Aron Can, Countess Malaise & More!

Published April 30, 2021

Grapevine Playlist: Tómas Welding, Ægir, Aron Can, Countess Malaise & More!
Photo by
Anna Maggý

We’re sorry about the lack of TS10 yesterday, but hopefully these tracks can make up for it.

Tómas Welding – Here They Come

Tómas has always had that unique ability to sing three simple words such as “We say goodnight,” and imbue it with so much meaning that they end up creating a story of their own. Weirdly enough, his songs are often about silence—quiet moments of regret after a night out, sitting by the phone hoping to receive a text, and now, in “Here They Come”, those late nights when all the worries you’ve been ignoring come back in full force. It’s a painful song about minutia—not a dramatic ballad, but rather a testament to the slow degradation that anxiety causes. The song has Tómas’s characteristic smooth, layered harmonies over jumpy beats—probably not the best thing to listen to when you can’t sleep, to be honest. That said, when you need to commiserate, you know what to play. On that note, congrats to Tómas for his newly-Platinum Song “Lifeline”, which just reached more than 10 million streams! HJC

Aron Can – FLÝG UPP

The hip-hop wunderkid is back. Aron Can became the flavour-of-the-month a few years ago with his debut album ‘Þekkir stráginn’, becoming a superstar in the Icelandic music scene almost overnight at only 17 years old. His new song, “Flýg upp” (“Flying up”), bares a stronger, more soulful style that’s clearly influenced by 80s-style dance music and aesthetics á la ‘Stranger Things’. The song is born to be a summer pop hit and I especially appreciate how he raises the stakes midway through and turns it into a straight-up dance song for the party thirsty crowd. It’s a fun track and we don’t ask for more in the midst of a pandemic. VG

Svavar Knútur, Emily Hope Price & Kristjana Stefans – Funeral Blues

Svavar Knútur, the most wholesome man in Iceland, can do no wrong. It’s not easy to maintain good vibes without coming across as twee or saccharine, but Svavar always manages to pull it off, most often by collaborating with other musicians and sharing the spotlight with them, this time with delicate strings player Emily Hope Price and celebrated jazz singer Kristjana Stefans. This tender track is a great example of what a collective vision can be, and, according to the artists, based on the poem of the same name by W.H. Auden. A gentle ballad to soothe your soul, and perfect for a rainy afternoon. Note: An EP featuring all three of these artists will be released on Theory of Whatever Records on June 1st! ASF

Countess Malaise feat. Lyzza – Hit It

The artist Countess Malaise has certainly developed her aesthetic over the time that The Grapevine has known her, growing from the self-described “goth bitch” of a few years back into the more polished mainstream hip-hop persona presented with this track.

And her music has developed along a parallel path. “Hit It” is a self-assured slice of dark beats from the Reykjavík-raised rapper, who on this occasion shares the mic with LYZZA. Deep sparse bass throbs under a spacious and polished production, while breathy vocals intone an interesting array of sexual threats. It’s definitely what I would call “a strong track”. JP

Ægir – Look at pretty things

Ægir has been around the Reykjavík alternative scene since his early teens, drumming in a variety of acts from World Narcosis to Dreymandi hundur, but now works as a solo artist.

“Look At Pretty Things” fades gently into view at the start, lulling you into a false sense of familiarity with its swirling psych-pads and off-the-shelf kick-hat pattern. Then—without warning—it unleashes a brutal, psychotic and utterly thrilling breakbeat which batters your sensibilities until you can’t tell your arse from your Aphex Twin.

If you’re wondering why the track seems to end long before the file has stopped playing, that’s because the last minute is devoted solely to a coda from those swirling psych-pads to calm you down. You may need it. JP

Daníel Hjálmtýsson – Colouring a Cloud

I know it’s generally considered bad form to describe the sound of a musician by comparing them to other musicians, but you really can’t help but think of Peter Murphy or Leonard Cohen when you listen to this menacing but polished track by Daníel Hjálmtýsson. His gravelly baritone is at once evocative and compelling, and builds the emotion carefully to its starburst refrain. A great song for driving and smoking at night while thinking about your ex. ASF

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