From Iceland — Grapevine New Music: Kónguló, Úlfur Úlfur, Pale Moon & More

Grapevine New Music: Kónguló, Úlfur Úlfur, Pale Moon & More

Published October 20, 2023

Grapevine New Music: Kónguló, Úlfur Úlfur, Pale Moon & More
Photo by
Art Bicnick

With the weather taking a turn for the worse this weekend, leaving multiple flights from Keflavík Airport either delayed or cancelled, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – we have approximately two months until Christmas. Were it not for IKEA, I wouldn’t even be thinking about the holidays, as the international flat pack furniture dealer set up their intimidating goat effigy earlier this week. I guess it’s time to bring the matches, as the goat has been the subject of multiple arsons. While you stock up and head over to Garðabær, here’s a superb collection to add to your goat-burning playlist. Don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly music podcast, 66 Degrees of Sound, to stay on top of the creme de la creme in Icelandic music. 

Tumi Árnason, Magnús Trygvason Eliassen – Gleypir tígur gleypir ljón 

Released October 13

When two of the most prolific instrumentalists in Iceland coalesce for a music project, you better listen up. As shown by their widespread affiliation with an array of different artists, saxophone player Tumi Árnason and drummer Magnús Trygvason Eliassen are the people you want to call if you need to get the job done. Gleypir tígur gleypir ljón (Swallows tiger swallows lion) is the duo’s second saxophone and drum creation. Here, they continue their journey of free improvisation, resulting in a curious combination. Avant-garde blast beats are ensured. JB

Gísli Gunnarsson, Laufey Soffía – Lost Ones

Released October 13

As Laufey Soffía of Kælan Mikla sings, let this song pull you up into the ether with Gísli Gunnarsson’s captivating compositions and Laufey’s haunting performance. Initially presenting a melancholic piano arpeggio, this piece pumps it up to eleven, suddenly turning into atmospheric black metal. Gísli’s talents as a mixer of modern classical and ambient music shine on “Lost Ones,” off his forthcoming album, Gísli & Friends. The album is out November 10 and – as the name suggests – features a collection of collaborations with his friends. JB

Kónguló, Neonme – The Water In Me

Released October 18 

There’s no use in putting all your eggs in one basket, as Kónguló demonstrates. The moniker of composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir, the artist has mostly focused her efforts on film scoring in recent years, going so far as collaborating with director M. Night Shyamalan. However, Herdís’ solo project Kónguló also occupies a good portion of her work, with the project’s debut single “Be Human” released in 2022. On “The Water In Me,” Kónguló conjures epic electronic compositions, facilitated by Salka Valsdóttir’s emotional vocal performance. Kónguló’s thumping production will make your heart beat faster. JB

Úlfur Úlfur – Þú hér

Released October 20 

Seminal rap duo Úlfur Úlfur shared their first single from their upcoming record, out Friday, October 27. With no time to waste, the team have an excellent hip-hop track on their hands. Known for their evocative lyrics and earth-shaking beats, Úlfur Úlfur is a tour de force in Icelandic hip-hop. Their familiar formula of having one half singing a melodic hook, and the other half constructing highly eloquent poetry, is a successful feat. JB

Pale Moon – Spaghetti 

Released October 20 

Procuring a silky smooth indie-pop track are Pale Moon, following up on their 2022 debut, Lemon Street. Consisting of duo Árni Guðjónsson and Nata Sushchenko, “Spaghetti” is off Pale Moon’s forthcoming album Carpets, Cables, And Sweaty Hearts. Written about Nata’s experience performing onstage, the lyrics evoke that all too common feeling of stage fright. You know, musicians get nervous too. The song’s Mac DeMarco-style guitars and overall chill atmo will put your worst worries at ease. JB

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