From Iceland — The Grapevine's New Year Musical Picks: Ólafur, Gyða and Rafnar

The Grapevine’s New Year Musical Picks: Ólafur, Gyða and Rafnar

Published December 30, 2021

The Grapevine’s New Year Musical Picks: Ólafur, Gyða and Rafnar
Photo by
Art Bicnick

So it’s the last week of 2021. And with one ear on the upcoming hectic shenanigans of New Year’s Eve, we bring three gentle musical gifts from the frosty north to calm your spirit.

As ever, you can enjoy the musical gems brought to you by The Grapevine over this last year in our New Music Picks 2021 playlist.

Ólafur Arnalds – Sunrise Session II

The shortest day of the year in Iceland – the winter solstice on December 21st – is very short indeed, with only around four hours between sunrise and sunset. Fortunately most towns and households have their Christmas lights up by then, but any other help lifting spirits is more than welcome.

Last year pianist and composer Ólafur Arnalds filmed his Sunrise Session on the solstice, starting before dawn and creating a gentle homage to the light growing through the studio windows as the sun rose. This year he has repeated the concept, but located in Reykjavík’s Harpa concert hall so that the building’s magnificent glass walls can incorporate the rising sun into the session.

Ólafur is joined by vocalist Josin and members of the Reykjavík Recording Orchestra as he recreates three tracks from his last two albums. Whatever else is going on in the world, you can rely on two things: the sun will continue to rise, and Ólafur Arnalds will continue to produce work of immense beauty. JP

Gyða Valtýsdóttir – Miracle

Gyða has done it again in this extraordinary track. Her characteristically at once delicate and powerful vocals, minimal harmonies, and music that serves more as a sparse backdrop for her voice rather than a main character, will all unwind your nerves and loosen every muscle in your body. The video, directed and edited by Gyða herself, is truly something to behold and captures the gentle sensuality of this remarkable track. ASF

Rafnar – Fæ Ör

Fæ Ör is an expansive and inspiring track, taken from ‘Voda‘ the debut album of Húsavík native Rafnar Orri Gunnarsson. It’s the kind of thing you might put on when you’re feeling down, a sort of auditory weighted blanket to wrap yourself in. Sparse piano and soaring strings are the hallmarks of the track, punctuated by the occasional use of brass at just the right moments, and a girl’s choir adding some charming backing vocals. ASF

You can be in with the chance of winning a box of Grapevine goodies! Just sign up to our newsletter before 1500 Icelandic time on New Year’s Eve, and when the newsletter arrives just answer the question and follow the instructions. Click here to sign up.

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