From Iceland — Fríkirkjan - Thursday

Fríkirkjan – Thursday

Published October 16, 2009

Most languages in the world are comprised of both a visual and an aural component, so it was with intrigue that I entered S.L.Á.T.U.R.‘s
congregation to see a set-up featuring instruments and a
video-projection screen. Noticeably missing from the list of bios in
Airwave’s brochure, S.L.Á.T.U.R. is a collective of composers who
devise and perform non-traditional music and conduction techniques.
Their particular language Thursday evening dipped into the realms of
experimental composition and music education, capped by a healthy
dialogue between musicians and audience (in neither Icelandic nor
English, but in S.L.Á.T.U.R.).
Áki Ásgeirsson’s finale found the audience stomping and clapping to
video-projected prompts, a solid model for translating visual stimulus
(such as sheet music) into sound. If you’re hunting for an
invigorating, humorous, and thoroughly memorable Airwaves experience,
you’ll have three more chances to wrap your tongue around
S.L.Á.T.U.R.:  Skemmtihúsið (Friday, 20:00),  Hljómskálagarður
featuring a sports competition (Saturday, 15:00), and Fríkirkjan
(Saturday, 20:30).
A two-hour break separated S.L.Á.T.U.R. and Hjaltalín,
presumably to allow for the latter’s complex set-up. The break also
proved beneficial to digest the former’s euphoric experimentation
before Hjaltalín filled ears with windswept fields full of long grass
and lupine.
Horns sounded, strings buzzed, timpani boomed, and Hjaltalín galloped
into orchestral frenzy. Oscillating between frothing rock and fantasy
ballad, the band and their 15-strong chamber accompanists cradled with
bubbles and lullabies Fríkirkjan’s full house (plus several love-struck
faces fogging up church-window glass as they watched from outside).
Hjaltalín’s set proved a call-to-action to embrace the jouissance of
now. Both vocalists crooned smooth as smjör, and the symphonic
arrangements had just the right edge of melodrama to put weight in
Instant, grounded standing ovation.

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