Words by Bartek Wilk
The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 4)
I don’t know any other Icelandic artist who has been involved in so many different projects in the span of a year. Let’s see – first of all there was a new Samaris album. Although musically different from their previous releases and overtaken by Doddi, Black Lights couldn’t have been done without her lyrics and her very special voice (a voice that won her the 2016 Icelandic Music Award for best electronic album and best female singer). The trio is still one of the most important electronic bands of the younger generation of Icelandic music. There was also Sundur – a new Pascal Pinon album Jófríður recorded with her sister Ásthildur. This one was really digging to the roots of the Ákadóttir sisters’ music. So simple and honest in the folk-influenced singer-songwriter form, but deep and grown-up on the lyrical side. It’s fantastic that despite being apart they still have their own common space and play such intimate music. But it’s only the beginning. There’s far more to come. A great project called Gangly, founded with Sindri from Sin Fang and Úlfur from Oyama. Unique mix of different genres like trip-hop, electronica and pop. Jófríður also actively supports other artists and their projects. Last year she recorded a beautiful song called Way Low with Kreld (Kristján Eldjárn from SYKUR) and she also sang on Bones, a new track released by Low Roar at the beginning of 2017. Besides making all these records she played so many concerts all over the world that it’s almost unbelievable she found a time to compose and record her solo album. But, I think in this case it might not be the best way to put it. As Jófríður said she never intended to make this album. It just happened unexpectedly, sparked by her mentor Shahzad Ismaily (who previously worked with Lou Reed, Tom Waits or Yoko Ono). I wish every artist could record such unexpected album at least once in their lifetime.
All due respect to every album and project Jófríður was previously involved in, Brazil is far better than everything she has ever done. “JFDR is combining all these and finding my true voice,” she admits. It’s a much simpler record, with the sound reduced to a certain essence. I would even dare call it a harsh and straight. Jófríður carefully plays every single note. Her compositions are amazingly clear and quiet. But at the same time the music is full of tension and anxiety. The soft minimal soundscapes are slowly flowing through your ears like a rising tide until you realize you’ve already drowned.
Brazil was written during a twelve-month period of travel, recorded in New York and finally released on March 17th through her own label White Sun Records. The album contains 9 compositions. It drives you through extreme feelings – from disorder, hope, loss, heartbreak, love, dreams, celebration, beginning and ending. It’s really absorbing and addictive album. Jófríður’s voice is quiet and tender, sometimes close to a whisper. And so is the music. It’s always in the background, even those moments without Jófríður singing. Gentle electronic sounds are playing continuously like loops complemented by the atmospheric guitar, which by contrast, is playing more like an improvisation. The album is just fascinating and complete as a whole. But it needs concentration. You just have to give it more time and attention. Brazil will penetrate your mind, and then you won’t be able to get rid of what it brings, whether you were ready for it or not.
JFDR – Brazil
1. White Sun
3. Instant Patience
5. Higher State
6. Anything Goes
8. Destiny’s Upon Us