Keeping a finger on the pulse

REVIEWS - page 3

A Dream Within A Dream

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Words by Wim Van Hooste The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 3) It has been three years since Epic Rain released their debut album, Somber Air,on the Lucky Records label. The band is the outlet of vocalist Jóhannes Birgir Pálmason. The departure of male co-vocalist Bragi has left more space for the vocal chords of singer Ingunn Erla Sigurðardóttir. The music is rooted in underground and alternative hip-hop, but in more recent years, Epic Rain began including aspects of cabaret, dark folk, country and blues in their music. Epic Rain’s lyrics are evocative and haunting, describing in picturesque detail persons and their thoughts and actions in a menacing and mad world. Surprisingly, Dream Sequences  opens with the pumping instrumental track, ‘Dream Sequence 1’, driven by Maggi’s percussion. Magnús Trygvason Eliassen is without a doubt the most eruptive drummer boy of the island (collaborator/member of ADHD, amiina,…

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Mimra – Sinking Island

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Words by Stína Satanía The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 3) Sinking Island, a new album by MIMRA, is a fascinating treat on the subject of vocal experiences. Hidden under the name MIMRA, singer, producer and composer María Magnúsdóttir offers powerful and dramatic vibes. Her electro-acoustic folk pop arrangements are bold and rich, and her beautiful voice is indeed striking. María has been active on the local music scene – especially the jazz scene – for quite some time. Her previous experiences with electro-pop duo Early Late Twenties gave her a base to work on her own, more electro-acoustic, material. MIMRA’s solo debut, Not Your Housewife, was released in 2009 to rave reviews. The next album took her a few years to complete. Sinking Island, as it would ultimately be titled, took shape in the Netherlands and England, and eventually became her master’s thesis in popular…

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Sometimes Hearing Is Believing

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Words by Wim Van Hooste The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 2) Ruddinn was once a solo project of einzelgänger Bertel Ólafsson. Today he teams up with vocalist Heiða Eiríksdóttir (Unun, Hellvar, heidatrubador) to produce some more electronic music in his studio in suburbia Hafnarfjörður. On this fourth Ruddinn album, More music than music (Möller Records), every song is dominantly driven by the crystal clear vocals of Heiða. The long player has a more mature feel than the previous releases, Ruddinn (2006), 2 (2008) and I need a vacation (2012). The latest sounded like Unun was attending an eighties Britpop party with The Human League, New Order and Pet Shop Boys, remixed by the GusGus of the ‘90s. The opener ‘Invisible world’ reminds me of the best of U2. The title track oscillates around the sun setting at the horizon. You can pump up the volume…

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All The Kinder Versions Of Mammút

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Words by Stína Satanía The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 2) The Icelandic five-piece Mammút mix a high emotional depth with a thick and dark rock sound on their fourth album Kinder Versions, released on 14 July via the London-based Bella Union. The band signed to the foreign label last year, making Kinder Versions their long-awaited international breakout. This release also brings another change, with only English lyrics on the album, a first for the band. Mammút sprang to life in 2003. The band evolved into a quintet and quickly became a fixture of the local scene. In spite of numerous sonic changes over the course of their career, they steadily grew in power and personality. With a spectacular fourth album, Mammút are now ready to shake the world with the ambling basslines of their prehistoric steps. The highest quality is here, from the very first…

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I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass

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Words by Wim Van Hooste The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 2) Especially when I’m lonely, I need the noises of destruction (Nick Lowe, 1978) GlerAkur (Glass Field) is the moniker of Elvar Geir Sævarsson, the sound designer at the National Theatre of Iceland. Down in the basement bar of the theatre, composer Elvar and friends (the longplayer was recorded with 4 guitarists, 2 drummers and 1 bassist) blended a full album featuring fierce and cinematic music. The hypnotic drone, metal riffs, eery ambient and post-rock make up a quadripoint where quality quantums meet. The album was released by the German label Prophecy Productions on 21. July 2017. One year earlier, GlerAkur’s debut EP, Can’t You Wait, saw the light of day. The EP was nominated for a Kraumur Award, one of the few Icelandic music prizes. A Rolling Stone magazine journalist, attending Iceland Airwaves Festival…

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All I Have To Do Is Dream

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Words by Wim Van Hooste The latest release by Sólstafir, Berdreyminn (The dreamer of forthcoming events), is the band’s sixth release in 15 years. On the previous releases, Í Blóði og Anda (2002), Masterpiece of Bitterness (2005), Köld (2009), Svartir Sandar (2011), and Ótta (2014), they ignored all genre borders, both metal and mental ones, and pushed the boundaries. The album was produced by Birgir Birgisson (Sigur Rós, Alcest) and Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ghost, Paradise Lost, Oranssi Pazuzu) at the former swimming pool Sundlaugin on the borders of Reykjavík. (more…)

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Ragnar Ólafsson’s Urges (to run)

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Words by Stína Satanía The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 2) Ragnar Ólafsson is a versatile musician who has established his name on the Icelandic music scene with such bands as Árstíðir, Ask the Slave, In Siren or Lightspeed Legend. Playing almost everything from chamber folk through jazz to progressive metal, he has tirelessly surprised listeners with his numerous sonic hats. On Urges, his debut solo LP released in June 2017, Ragnar once again reveals a new face. This artwork is different from all his previous achievements and goes a long way into his singer-songwriter outfit. This solo project is perhaps a little sidestep in Ragnar’s music career. Labelled a heartbreak album, Urges is packed with emotional and intimate songs. Lyrically, darkness is everywhere. The songs are heartfelt but sorrowful and mirror dealing with changes and experiencing the lows of life. The spotlight stays on Ragnar:…

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Sóley – Endless Summer

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Words by Bartek Wilk The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 2) When I think of the most fragile Icelandic artist, Sóley Stefánsdóttir is the first name that comes to my mind. I’ve been a fan of her talent since Seabear, always impatiently waiting for any new song she’s recorded. It’s been two years sinceher latest album Ask The Deep, following which EP Don’t Ever Listen came out. Incredibly good, stunningly dark, and deeply personal are words to describe the first album mentioned above. It was the quintessence of her image that I’ve painted in my mind through the years. The image of an unbelievably sensitive and empathetic person, who cares the most about the world, reaching its deepest evil. She incorporates all her personal experiences while writing her lyrics and music. I was not only truly surprised when I heard that Endless Summer was going to be…

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Droopy Dog at the Olympics

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Words by Wim Van Hooste The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 1) At the age of 16, the duo Captain Fufanu (Kaktus and Gulli) mixed dub, techno, house and experimental electronica. But since 2015 there is no Captain anymore on board of the Fufanu boat. Two years after Few more days to go (2015), their debut album on the famous One Little Indian (OLI) records label, Kaktus and Gulli Einarsson found a drummer boy that goes by the name Bang. OLI is known for having a strong umbilical cord to the Icelandic indie foetus since Kaktus’ father Einar Örn’s band The Sugarcubes jumped into the Indie Indian’s teepee. The second coming, ‘Sports’, is another 10-track album. This time it was produced by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It is a decathlon that kicks off with its arty farty build up title track. Song 2…

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The Franz Connection

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Words by Wim Van Hooste The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 1) Franz Gunnarsson has a long history in the Icelandic music scene. He played and plays guitar in bands as different as In Memoriam, Quicksand Jesus, Moody Company, Ensími and Dr. Spock. Kaflaskil (Watershed) is his first side/solo project, made with the helping hands and vocal chords of male/female friends, like Kristófer Jensson, Tinna Marína Jónsdóttir, Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson (Todmobile since 2011), Erna Hrönn Ólafsdóttir , Stéfan Jakobsson, Bryndís Ásmundur, Magni Ásgeirsson (Á Móti Sól), and Dr. Spock buddy Guðfinnur Karlsson. The 12-track album opens with a tune that throws you back to the Icelandic sound of the 90s: ‘Einn Dag Í Einu’ (‘One Day At The Time’). ‘Afkvæmi’ (‘Offspring’) has a fantastic drive and vibe, pretty fly for a white guy, indeed. The first duet and duel, a clash of the sexes, is ‘Hugarhvarf’…

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