This year was a diverse one. The biggest standout, in my opinion, was the incredible collective success of Icelandic classical music. This was exemplified in the compilation album ‘Concurrence’ by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, which was conducted by the classical superstar, and former Grapevine cover star, Daníel Bjarnason. There, you’ll find amazing work by artists like María Huld Markan, Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson and Anna Þorvaldsdóttir, who was recently nominated for a Grammy. When it comes to electronic music, Berlin-based techno-star Bjarki is an absolute standout with his album, ‘Happy Earthday’. Mr. Silla released a fantastic effort, ‘Hands On Hands,’ which unfortunately slid under the radar but should have been one of the year’s biggest hits. But here are a few more albums that I loved this year. So, here we go.
Sin Fang – Sad Party
Sin Fang is a solo project with Sindri Már Sigfússon, probably better known internationally as the frontman of the band Seabear. His album, Sad Party, is a brilliant combination of the best of Sindri Már’s complicated sides of an artist. It’s a soothing indie with a melancholic strike, and yet, some cool vibes that give one hope that everything just might be okay at the end of the day.
Bjarki- Happy Earthday
Bjarki is probably Iceland’s biggest international superstar that you have never heard about. Mainly because he’s a huge name in the techno-world in Europe, which is safe to say is not a world that strives for a mainstream audience. His album, Happy Earthday, is perhaps one of the best Icelandic electro albums ever released. For those that have been following his career, this album is also a surprise, for it’s much more accessible than anything he has done before. And it tends to get pretty heavy when it comes to Bjarki. If you’re a beginner at electro music, I recommend starting with Cereal Rudestorm.
Kristín Anna – I must be the devil
Like with many great albums, you need to listen to them a couple of times before being absolutely absorbed by the magic hidden in the songs. This is the case with Kristín Anna’s album. It is almost otherworldly, like her character, which is larger than life. This album is deep, complicated, poetic and like a warm artistic hug for the senses. But if you don’t have time to give an album a chance, just listen to Forever Love, which is also, in my opinion, one of the best songs of the year. If you’re still not convinced, well, then let’s just agree to disagree.
Countess Malaise – Hystería
Countess Malaise came like a storm onto the scene a few years ago and has now established herself as one of Iceland’s best hip hop artists. Her album is gritty, dark and violent and she does it in such a convincing way that we haven’t seen such a force in this bubbly party scene of Icelandic Hip-Hop for years. The Countess also revealed, in Reykjavík Grapevine’s cover story of our December issue, that her life has been very different from her colleagues in Iceland, which are more or less middle-class boys echoing the mainstream American Hip-Hop culture. In short; just bow down to the queen.
Mr. Silla Hands on hands
Mr. Silla’s album, Hands on hands, is a brilliant showcase of the diversity and immense talents of Mr. Silla. Every detail on the album is like a candy, her voice is beautiful and the songwriting is original and even trying at times. Mr. Silla has never chosen the easy path of making music, although she has a beautiful singing voice, and she’s not taking any short cuts here, although you can find songs that could easily be radio hits.
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