From Iceland — Kiasmos Return To Stage

Kiasmos Return To Stage

Published May 31, 2024

Kiasmos Return To Stage
Photo by
Peadar Ó Goill
Red Illuminations

Bursting back into business

Pioneering DJ duo and hometown heroes Kiasmos are officially back in business after finally taking the stage in Reykjavík on Monday, May 27. In March, they teased the end of their seven-year hiatus with the release of a new EP, Flown. Since then, they have dropped another EP, Burst, announced tour dates and a new full album, II, set for July 5. I guess you could say they were already back in your headphones, but for some, they’re just not back back until they’re back on stage with their beats on the dancefloor.

There was a collective intake of breath as Kiasmos finally appeared.

As the project of two highly accomplished musician-producer-composer-doers-of-other-things, a hiatus does not mean they haven’t been busy. As they mentioned in a recent interview, our boys Janus Rasmussen and Ólafur Arnalds have been hard at work on their solo projects in recent years. They’ve released several albums between them and played shows all over the world, including a few here and there as Kiasmos. Just not in Iceland. Their last local show was on New Year’s Eve in 2018 at the now-defunct club Húrra (RIP) with Jon Hopkins. 

Red Illuminations

From minimalist to magnificent

 Having waited over five years for another show, there was a buzz of anticipation in the air at Gamla Bíó as the audience filtered in. The show had drawn in a wide range of local flavour. The typical 101 rats vibed with the band’s minimalist approach to techno in their plain t-shirts and baggy jeans while the typical middle-aged Icelandic ladies in heels and fur coats seemed placed to match the venue’s neoclassical mezzanine and swanky chandelier. What they all had in common was palpable excitement. 

They really leaned into an angel-on-one-shoulder-devil-on-the-other kind of dynamic

One-half of DJ duo Glókollur warmed up the intimate but elegant space with an eclectic set. It was giving everything from the tropical funkiness of Polo & Pan to an equally crispy and wispy Boys Noize remix of “My Moon, My Man” by Feist. There was a collective intake of breath as Kiasmos finally appeared. They’ve kept their setup fairly simple. Two separate decks were facing off on the stage and between them hung a giant metal sculpture of the elongated diamond-shaped logo familiar to Kiasmos fans from their album covers. 

On good and evil 

With no need to grab attention, they opened with the new material. Their new sound is more upbeat, almost poppy, and emphasises percussion without losing the ethereal strings and gentle piano riffs that have become their signature. However, they didn’t make us wait long before they transitioned into “Looped,” one of their first hits. From there, the masters of nuance wove sounds from their 2017 EP Blurred into the new material. Some tracks, like “Flown” and “Burst,” appeared on their recent EPs but many are still unreleased. 

Peadar Ó Goill

Although the night was clearly meant to showcase what they’ve been working on and where they’re going next, Kiasmos is not too cool to play the songs they knew everyone already knows and loves. The last few tracks and the encore came from the dearly beloved self-titled album that catapulted them to fame in 2014 and sent the crowd into a frenzy. By the end, even the techno-stoics who show approval through a nearly imperceptible nod of the head were moving their feet. 

Red Illuminations

Although they’re not really the fist-pumping type, the DJ duo also clearly enjoyed themselves. Ólafur smiled and laughed to himself while Janus appeared hyperfocused, almost entranced by the process. What with Ólafur’s close-cropped fair hair and white t-shirt on one side of the stage and Janus wearing all black hidden behind his dark curtain of long hair and beard on the other, they really leaned into an angel-on-one-shoulder-devil-on-the-other kind of dynamic. Luckily, we didn’t have to pick one: they both just whispered at us to dance. So we did. 

Kiasmos is on tour in Europe over the summer and fall with a few dates in North America later in the year. Check out their tour dates here.


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