From Iceland — Is There A Sound Engineer In The Room?

Is There A Sound Engineer In The Room?

Published April 28, 2014

Sin Fang performs an intimate gig at Mengi

Is There A Sound Engineer In The Room?
Fred Q. Labelle

Sin Fang performs an intimate gig at Mengi

You know you’re going to see something unique, in many ways, when you get to a venue on time and it’s already crowded with elite hipsters sitting on the ground, eagerly waiting for a soon-to-be performing Sin Fang who is still fiddling with technical details, pressing buttons, moving wires around.

Upon arriving, I was charmed by art gallery Mengi, as it has that little extra artsy feeling that most concert halls don’t have, allowing one to get into an artistic mindset before Sin Fang would hit the notes. The walls were lined with drawings by Inga Birgisdóttir’s new exhibition ‘Mixtúrúr,’ which is inspired by Jónas Jónasson’s medicinal plant descriptions from the first half of the 20th century.  

Sindri had been asked by Mengi to perform to accompany his girlfriend Inga’s opening. Although her show proved successful, his would start with a struggle, and I had the chance to discuss the matter with him after the show. In retrospect, the art gallery wasn’t equipped well enough for Sin Fang’s rich electronic atmosphere and no sound technicians were to be found on the premises to fix things. From the get-go, the show seemed cursed with the singer’s glass falling during the first song. “It was ok, it was just just water,” he said, “but everything else went wrong. It seemed to be the theme of the night.” 

Sindri, as well as drummers Gylfi Sigurðsson (of Retro Stefson and Ojba Rasta) and Erling Bang (Ojba Rasta) had to perform without monitors to hear themselves. Sindri showed some discontent, making gestures for anyone close enough to the sound console to increase the volume of his voice. He had to spend more time looking down at his table filled with gear to repeatedly fix sound issues, thus not connecting with the audience. “I didn’t enjoy it so much tonight. We had quite a hard time. We couldn’t hear ourselves, which really makes for a nightmare,” he explained. “But you have to do one show like that every year and hopefully it didn’t sound as bad as I thought.”

In any case, the lasting feeling of the evening was a positive one as we got to hear beautifully crafted electro-folk songs. The show started with a reworked version of “Clangour And Flutes,” superbly justifying the presence of the two drummers: they both brought incredible vigour by producing all these intriguing clinging noises that make Sin Fang’s sound distinctive and that extra edge that live performances should have on recorded music. How they used the sides of the drum sets, made echoing effects with the cymbals and their timing were absurdly moving throughout the 45-minute long performance. “Sometimes I bring them along: it’s not that fun to just look at me, standing there alone, it’s a bit more fun to look at something else,” Sindri said. 

Sin Fang then launched into the beautiful and melancholic “Clinger” and “Please Don’t,” two in-progress songs that might feature on his next EP. “Hopefully it will come out in the summer but maybe fall is more realistic,” he said. Already released albums “Look At The Light,” “Walk With You” and “What’s Wrong With Your Eyes” marked Sin Fang’s awakening, as he started to let go of himself, grooving to the beat and filled the room with his presence. The “Look At The Light” live version relied more on percussions than its recorded version, much to my delight, giving it an improved contemplative vibe. 

Unreleased “Down” and “Candyland” followed, the former with enthralling Hawaiian vibes and contemplative voice samplings, the latter using dramatic piano sounds and concluded by electronic distortions. These two tracks demonstrated how computers are increasingly part of his creative process, which he approaches in a very professional way (remember the cover of our January 2014 issue?) “I normally do a normal 8-to-5 day, Monday to Friday, but I also work at night. The iPhone is good to drop ideas too, to put them down somewhere. The new music I’m doing relies on electronics more than what I did in the past. It’s very important,” he said. The four new tracks the spectators certainly got to hear reveal an evolution in Sin Fang’s artistry. A new soundtrack for the fall’s falling leaves is on its way. 

The closing number was the awaited “Young Boys,” the opening title of his latest album, ‘Flowers,’ an introspective gem of pop, which gave Gylfi and Erling the chance to show their rhythmic talents one last time. 

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