Label: Moderna Release: Chasing The Present Release Date: February 21st, 2020 Bandcamp Tidal Spotify chasingthepresent.com Today I am running with an exclusive premiere of a piece by Snorri Hallgrímsson from an upcoming release by the same title on Moderna. “Chasing the Present” is the title track from the soundtrack for the award-winning documentary by Mark…
Lárus Sigurðsson is a new name for me. The pianist and multi-instrumentalist hails from Iceland, and he already has a catalog which is a few records deep. This is a mellow, but absorbing album to listen to, with piano, guitar, and voice out in the distance.
The Passepartout Duo are pianist and keyboardist Nicoletta Favari and drummer/percussionist Christopher Salvito. For such a minimal setup, they manage to put together a sound that is cinematic in scope. There are elements of contemporary classical music, but a bit of jazz slides in there as well. Quite a profound release from them.
As an aside, the artwork was made by a Chinese company, as the Bandcamp website indicates:
This item is produced in China by the arts organization AnyOne Workspace, and all the proceeds from this sale go to the artists Yannis Zhang and Yumo Wu.
Though the limited edition set is a bit out of my price range, it’s going to a worthy cause. As someone who is currently residing in Beijing, it’s good to see local artists collaborating worldwide. There is a wealth of talent locally, and they need exposure.
As if Iceland didn’t have a wealth of great and well-known bands, here’s yet another to add to the collection. Dúkkulísur (Paper Dolls) were/are (?) a new wave band who seem to still be around. This track was from 1984. For a bit more info, read on or look at the video over at Youtube:
From their self-titled 1984 EP.
Dúkkulísurnar (“The Paper Dolls”) from Egilsstaðir took their cue from Grýlurnar, an all-girl group that appeared in ‘Með allt á hreinu’ alongside Stuðmenn. However, Dúkkulísurnar never sounded like Grýlurnar and leaned more towards The Pretenders in style. In 1982, the first Músíktilraunir was organised, a “battle of the bands”-competition that still remains a springboard for young bands. The first band to win, DRON, faded away quickly, but for Dúkkulísurnar, who won in 1983, everything “happened very fast afterwards,” as guitarist and main songwriter Gréta would later remark. Dúkkulísurnar got signed to Skífan, at the time one of two big “major” labels in Iceland, and in the summer of 1984 the first six-track EP came out. It included ‘Pamela,’ a hit song about a pregnant 15-year old who sings: “This baby was an accident, in my stomach like flares, I wish I were Pamela in Dallas.”
Dúkkulísurnar’s LP came in 1986 (‘Í léttum leik’ (“A Light Game”)—the girls always hated the title) and included the band’s second hit, ‘Svarthvíta hetjan mín’ (“My Black And White Hero”). Being in an all-girl group was nothing to build one’s future on in 1986, so everybody “got serious” and enrolled into higher education. Dúkkulísurnar were laid to rest, but of course, like most other bands, the girls would play together again decades later.
Ólafur Arnalds produces the sort of gorgeous music Iceland seems to be noted for. He comes from an electronic/techno background, but his understanding of composition shows in his delicate compositions.
Thor’s Hammer don’t particularly strike one as worthy of their name. However, these guys were about 20 years ahead of really cheesy heavy metal bands who might have better fit the part.
Musically, however, they were incredibly good at producing a fuzzy, garage-y freakbeat.
Good heavens, this is an absolutely schizophrenic piece of music. It ranges from a sumptuous minimalist to an edgy post-rock before sliding into something more appropriate in an electroacoustic work.
Valgeir Sigurðsson hails from Iceland. Why is this not surprising? Yet another composer/musician from there to watch out for. To hear the whole of Architecture of Loss, the album this track is on, go to Valgeir’s Bandcamp site.
The best way to describe Árstíðir, at least in this gorgeous tune, is something like what a Varangian choir might have sounded like in 13th-Century Byzantium, singing in the Hagia Sophia.
As it turns out, the tune is from the 13th Century, written by Kolbeinn Tumason. No, Wuppertal isn’t quite Byzantium, especially inside of the train station, but the lads made a mundane place seem almost holy that day.
For another, perhaps clearer version, check out this performance from Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2012. To hear this as an MP3 or FLAC file, just download the ‘name your price’ album via Bandcamp.