From Iceland — Grapevine New Music: Nyrst, Magnús Jóhann, Ásgerður Júníusdóttir & More

Grapevine New Music: Nyrst, Magnús Jóhann, Ásgerður Júníusdóttir & More

Published December 8, 2023

Grapevine New Music: Nyrst, Magnús Jóhann, Ásgerður Júníusdóttir & More
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Supplied by Nyrst

With every day that passes, we’re getting closer to the holidays. On Sunday, the second of advent is observed in many Icelandic households, traditionally by lighting the second candle out of four placed in a wreath. At the Grapevine office, we do our due diligence in bringing new Icelandic music every week – something not affected by Christmas. This week, we have a mix of hyperpop, Italian pop songs dressed in a holiday costume, spellbinding black metal, and wonderful neoclassical pieces. Don’t forget to follow our playlist, updated every week.

Smjörvi – svo heilagt!!
Released November 3
I fondly remember Smjörvi’s debut music video, released way back in 2016 when the artist must have been around 16 years old. Named after the Icelandic food staple Smjörvi (the tinfoiled salted butter), Smjörvi is anything but salty on his latest record. Having experimented with trap and hyperpop in the past, svo heilagt!! sees the artist cement his craft, putting forward a delightfully positive and sincere record. JB

Hljómsveitin Ljós og Myrkur — Um jólin, saman við tvö
Released December 4

We couldn’t let you get away with skimming through this list without featuring at least one Christmas tune. On this holiday track, Hljómsveitin Ljós og Myrkur (the Band Light and Darkness) builds on the ancient Icelandic tradition of taking Italian pop songs and writing Yuletide-themed lyrics to them. This one in particular sees the 1990 winning song of Eurovision, “Insieme: 1992” by Toto Cutugno, in a special, festive outfit. JB

Magnús Jóhann – Rofnar
Released December 8

Rofnar is a long-awaited new album by Magnús Jóhann. Having collaborated with practically every artist in Iceland over the last year, it’s interesting to see the pianist rounding out his 2023 with new solo work. The album consists of 11 tracks, named “I-XI”, which give it a touch of extra seriousness. Despite the majority of tracks being written a few years back for a play, each of the  songs provides a unique narrative to be explored. Rofnar starts a slightly darker (or more mature?) chapter in Magnús’ work. Although released in December, the album the spirit of spring. IZ

Nyrst – Völd
Released December 8

The almighty Icelandic black metal band Nyrst have demonstrated their power in various ways. Not only can their music influence your mental state, but they’ve also shown their capacity in manipulating the weather. On several occasions during live performances, Nyrst apparently has a track record of  summoning storms with their shows. Looking past their grasp on the cosmos, Völd is based on the power imbalance between nature and mankind — a daily fact of life on this volcanic island. JB

Ásgerður Júníusdóttir – Séð Frá Tungli
Released December 7

Mezzo-soprano singer Ásgerður Júníusdóttir’s fourth album, Séð Frá Tungli is a compilation of compositions by musician Jórunn Viðar. For some time, Ásgerður has studied the jazz and cabaret influences in Jórunn’s music, with the aim of recording her works in that specific context. Jórunn Viðar was a pretty remarkable musician. The first Icelandic woman to study composition, Jórunn was the first to write an original ballet score, Eldur, in 1950. She would have turned 105 years old on December 7.  JB

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