From Iceland — Floating In A Bubble

Floating In A Bubble

Published November 20, 2014

Geislar concert at Húrra on October 14

Floating In A Bubble
Saskia Vallendar
Photo by
Saskia Vallendar

Geislar concert at Húrra on October 14

Red little spotlights moved constantly across the Húrra logo on the wall, and I could feel the relaxed vibes lingering in the air. Every seat was taken by folks enjoying pints of beer and chitchatting in the dimmed room, and everyone seemed to be looking forward to an evening of newcomer Geislar’s yet unknown tunes. The band Geislar was formed earlier this year, and has just released its debut album (it was not yet out at the time of this show). I had no idea what to expect from this novel arrangement of respected local artists, as they had only released a single song from their album, but the air was filled with promise, the audience clearly expecting greatness from this band of veterans. Indeed, the Iceland Music Export refers to Geislar as “the new Icelandic supergroup.” So, there were expectations to meet.

After a short wait, the stage started filling up with more and more musicians. The assembly went beyond Geislar’s six official members, as a string quartet was situated halfway on and next to the stage. I was surprised to see so many musicians on stage, curious and excited to hear how all of these artists would together. The band began by tuning their instruments, sharing a few jokes and laughs amongst each other before starting. The harmony emanating from the stage soothed the crowd, inducing a calming atmosphere.

The first song was a purely instrumental piece with Óskar Guðjónsson leading on the saxophone—a great way of warming the audience up to the jazzy tunes. During the first instrumental piece I wasn’t sure if the walls of Húrra could hold such a grand combination of instruments and present Geislar’s large band at its best. But my doubts did not last for long.

Once the second song began and Sigríður Thorlacius (of Hjaltalín fame) launched into the first notes of “Stone Cold Stone,” it all came gloriously together. Her clear and characteristic voice filled the entire room, harmonizing pleasantly between every part of this strong ensemble. Sigríður’s dazzling voice, supported by bass, guitar, drums, saxophone, keyboard and a string quartet transformed Húrra into a sparkling bubble filled with warm and soothing jazz tunes and dreamy vocals.

I couldn’t take my eyes off Sigríður, her voice enchanting me, the music leaving me hypnotized.

Geislar went on to play a number of gripping tune, all of them well received by the multigenerational crowd. When they finally finished their set, it felt like waking up from a dream that I didn’t want to end. I will definitely be getting their album.

Geislar is comprised of:

  • Singer Sigríður Thorlacius, best known for her work with Hjaltalín
  • Drummer Magnús Trygvason Eliassen plays with a lot of bands, ADHD, Moses Hightower, Sin Fang… the list goes on…
  • Guitarist Ómar Guðjónsson, an Icelandic jazz legend
  • Bassist Valdi Kolli gets around. You might know him from the band Hjálmar
  • Saxophone player Óskar Guðjónsson is another Icelandic jazz legend
  • Piano and keyboards are played Styrmir Sigurðsson, a multi- talented polymath who directs films, plays music, produces things, etc., in a very Icelandic fashion.
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