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He wants to alter your every ego trip

in Explore/Issue #4/REVIEWS by

Words by Wim Van Hooste The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 4) After being introduced to synths and drum machines by Icelandic icon and producer Hermigervill, Davíð Berndsen developed a groovy pump-up-the-jam, retro sound. His debut album, Lover in the Dark (Borgin 2009), gave him some international exposure, and it was re-released in 2011 by 101berlin in Germany and in Japan on the Donuts Pop label, and in 2012 by Geertruida in the Netherlands. His second release, Planet Earth (2013), is the perfect music to strut around to, dressed to kill in your fishnet gloves, shoulder pads, leopard leggings and slouch socks. The third album by this ginger-bearded redhead, Alter Ego (OX Records), also mines the 1980s for inspiration for his electropop music. The longplayer was funded by a successful Karolina Fund campaign. The record is driven by the Dutch connection, as all three studied in…

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The World Is Not Enough

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Words by Stína Satanía The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 4) Since 2003, the Reykjavík-based English–Icelandic musician, producer and singer-songwriter Joseph Cosmo Muscat has funnelled his music through different aesthetics, and now has had several projects under his belt, from metal (Celestine, formed in 2007) to hardcore punk (I Adapt), from electro to hip hop (Rímnariki). Last summer he dropped his third dreamy electronic solo album, entitled The World Is Not Enough, under the name Seint. On this album Seint was influenced by the sudden passing of his life-long friend IngólfurBjarni Kristinsson in 2017, to whom The World Is Not Enough is dedicated. Their sonic closeness is mirrored in ‘Guð’ (‘God’), where Joseph Cosmo Muscat honours his friend’s memory in the most accurate way, by letting his late friend’s voice be heard in the chorus. Though still a bit melancholic and with a thread of heartbreak,…

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Grúska Babúska – Tor

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Words by Stína Satanía The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 4) Grúska Babúska, a folk pop female collective with a melodic, other-worldly sound, released their self-titled debut album in 2013 and B-Sides Grúska Babúska in 2015. Their authentic fairy-tale style immediately drew attention. The band´s latest release, five-track EP Tor, was mostly written in 2016 during a week long residency in Glastonbury, UK, and dropped on the market on 1 September 2018. On the album, the band captures the influences of the historical, mythical and spiritual heritage of the town of Glastonbury, UK. Here, Amiina meets the playfulness of dj. flugvél og geimskip (known also as dj. airplane and spaceship). The result is like an affair between experimental electronica and childlike innocence. Each song of Tor glides on gloomy tales of winds of darkness, frost, moon and dancing shadows. Grúska Babúska introduce listeners to this atmosphere…

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Ólafur Arnalds´ revolution of sound

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Words by Stína Satanía The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 4) Over the years, Ólafur Arnalds has earned acclaim in both the contemporary and classical fields. His fourth solo album, re:member, was released in August on the new post-classical British label Mercury KX, which had already published his 2017 Island Songs as the first album under their umbrella. This time the BAFTA-winning multi-instrumentalist pushed himself out of the comfort zone and managed on just one album, to synchronise all the directions he has been spreading into – it has the classic sound of Ólafur Arnalds, with touches of his electronic dance side project Kiasmos, even hip-hop influences and the addition of hi-tech software. Bingo, or not really? There’s something magic about the way Arnalds shapes soundscapes. Building his own aesthetics on gentle piano chords and delicate orchestral strings arranged by his long-time collaborator Viktor Orri Árnason…

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Catching snowflakes with Árstíðir – Nivalis

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Words by Stína Satanía The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 4) As befits the English name of the band, the world of Árstíðir changes with every album – literally, like seasons. Three years have passed since this pop chamber outfit last released an album, Hvel. Much has changed along the way, but from the very beginning of their career, the band performed in a very high gear, which is now deepened with the maturity of their ten years’ experience as performers. One thing remains sure – Árstíðir don’t disappoint despite the quite high degree of my expectations towards their new material. After dropping three albums (Árstíðir in 2009, Svefn og vöku skil in 2011 and Hvel in 2015), the band summed up their progress over the past decade with the 22 June release of Nivalis, which appears in truth as their most mellow, grand and hauntingly…

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Kontinuum – No Need To Reason

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Words by Andreas Schiffmann The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 4) This is dark music that dodges the usual traps, coming across as neither pseudo-evil nor faux melancholy. Kontinuum’s weightless yet substantial sound has always revolved around the voice of multi-instrumentalist and musical director Birgir Þorgeirsson, whose vocal chords arguably rival those of Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg and Wovenhand’s David Eugene Edwards – both of whom are in their creative prime, like him and his troupe. On No Need to Reason, the frontman’s dominance is perhaps more obvious than ever before as he puts a different stamp on each track according to what it needs. Apart from, at best, sporadic extreme metal leanings, this Reykjavik-based band’s third album leaves no stylistic stone unturned to expose an underbelly of human psyche that is not entirely unsightly. ‘Lifelust’ alone demonstrates this with its almost pop groove, and the driving…

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Dream Wife Are Here, and They’re Changing the World

in Explore/Issue #4 by

Words by Jeff Obermeyer Photo by Marcus Getta I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Dream Wife as I waited for them to take the stage in Harpa’s Silfurberg room. I was already a huge fan of Iceland-born singer Rakel Mjöll, having fallen in love with her performance on Halleluwah’s self-titled 2015 album, but I expected this to be something different from the old-school lounge stylings of that project. And it was. It was punk, and honest, and powerful, and Dream Wife were immediately in heavy rotation on my iPod. The band’s back story is fairly well-known. In 2014, Rakel Mjöll connected with a pair of Brighton University classmates, Brits Alice Go and Bella Podpadec, to form a band as part of an art project. With Go on guitar and Podpadec on bass, the trio created a This Is Spinal Tap-like mockumentary and performed live in a gallery. Things…

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Big Ten

in Explore/Issue #3/REVIEWS by

Words by Wim Van Hooste The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 3) Hausi (Skull) is the tenth album by the band Stafrænn Hákon, once the alter ego, brainchild and playground of guitarist Ólafur Josephsson. Now, it has become a full four-piece band including guitarist Lárus Sigurðsson, bassist Árni Þór Árnason, and drummer Róbert Már Runólfsson. The album contains nine tracks composed by the band members between August 2016 and March 2017. The start of the album is reminiscent of 2016, when the band performed at Vinnslan in Tjarnarbíó and improvised 20 minutes of work based on melodies played on the harp by band member Lárus. Árni Þór plays the baritone bass in a tight way. The melodic layers of cello and trombone are incorporated in the sound, thanks to Þórður Hermannsson and Þröstur Sigurðsson, respectively. Track 1, ‘Rafall’, pops open like a wild flower on an…

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Stafrænn Hákon: Ólafur Josephsson In Da Hausi

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Words by Wim Van Hooste Photograph by Ómar Sverrisson He is a 42-year-old, 189-cm-tall man with dark hair that is naturally starting to turn grey. He lives in Reykjavík with his partner and their four kids. He works as a web designer in the travel industry, and has done so since moving back to Iceland from Denmark in 2010. This person is Ólafur Josephsson, who is the man behind Stafrænn Hákon, which started as a solo project and has since evolved into a full live band. Although he is not a formally educated musician, he makes music whenever he has some spare time, because he really enjoys it. He says it keeps him sane. Stafrænn Hákon has collaborated with a broad range of artists and musicians, and was aired on the late John Peel’s radio sessions, among others. This musical material has been released on the U.S based indie label…

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FM Belfast – Island Broadcast

in Explore/Issue #3/REVIEWS by

Words by Jeff Obermeyer The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 3) We stopped by FM Belfast’s Reykjavik office in November to pick up a copy of the band’s newest album, Island Broadcast. There to welcome us was artist and band member Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir. During the course of our visit, we asked what she thought about all the construction cranes visible outside her window and the changes to the downtown cityscape. She compared it to living in the movie Dark City, where every morning you wake up to find that things have changed somehow overnight. She also noted, with a sigh, that she missed some of the buildings the same way she would an old friend. That mood can be found throughout Island Broadcast – its beats and chords seemingly slow down just a bit, giving the whole thing a certain languid quality, like being lost…

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