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Tracing Echoes 2013 www.bloodgroup.is Downbeat but not half-hearted. Hot on the heels of Legend and Hjaltalín’s dark musical displays, Bloodgroup’s third album ‘Tracing Echoes’ shows the group in a more sombre, solemn mood. The posters for their album release gig had them looking like they’d just come from a funeral and the album’s cover design, with a mix of soft focus greys and blacks, is so murky that you can hardly read any of the lyrics. This could easily emit a lingering stench of pretentiousness, but they have taken their music to the next
Ólafur Arnalds For Now I Am Winter 2013 www.olafurarnalds.com You’re leaving me kinda cold. Following Ólafur’s fantastic performance at Sónar Reykjavík, I was almost certain that I would give ‘For Now I Am Winter’ a glowing review. I expected (wanted, even) to enjoy this album immensely.
Nadia Sirota Baroque 2013 www.nadiasirota.com A precious gem from Bedroom Community. If the notion of sitting through an hour of Baroque music makes you shuffle backwards toward the nearest exit, fear not: Nadia Sirota’s ‘Baroque’ is a rich, contemporary album more reminiscent of the grand scale of Baroque architecture than the scales and chord progressions of Baroque music. Made of adventurous new compositions largely from other members of Reykjavík’s Bedroom Community collective, Sirota entices a staggering timbral variety from the humble viola on her sophomore solo
level with ‘Tracing Echoes.’ Gone is the brash and bolshy style of their debut ‘Sticky Situation’ which they followed with a more poised and thoughtful second album, ‘Dry Land.’ In its place is a noirish, submerged Euro-dystopia of sleek lines, lingering neon and fractured urban spaces. Musically, you pick up several different strands woven into body music—from the quasi-tribal rhythms of opening track “Threat” and the doomy soul of “Nothing Is Written In The Stars” to hints of John Carpenter in the intro of “Fall” and M83-style overloading climaxes in the closing piece “Mysteries Undone.” But the main driver of the album is the bass synth sounds that heave around the lower ends of the songs like a pregnant mothership (I know several witch house aficionados who’d definitely appreciate the drag you experience in “The Water”). “A King’s Woe,” their best track, bleeds despondency all over the shop with Janus’s fragile vocals sitting atop heart breaking synth melodies. I don’t know if I could dance to ‘Tracing Echoes,’ but it’s definitely an album whose smothering soundwash happily embraces you in a womb-like shroud of bass and gloom. - Bob Cluness
So why do I find it so average? It’s not that it would have functioned better as an EP that featured only the strongest songs. And it’s not that some tracks seem to have been composed for film or TV (perhaps I am being too cynical there). No, I think the main problem is, with the exception of “Old Skin,” that it leaves me more or less utterly cold. The album is not badly performed (far from it), but it seems to be lacking passion. The strongest songs are those featuring Árnor Dan Arnarson (of Agent Fresco) and I don’t think that is too much of a coincidence. His evocative vocals help provide a much needed emotional gravity to the songs. There is a difference between using emotive chords, harmonies and melodies and actually playing with emotion. ‘For Now I Am Winter’ feels like it is lacking in the latter and it suffers for it. I just cannot get into it as much as I hoped I would. - Clyde Bradford
release, overdubbing her parts into a rich string orchestra augmented with synths and occasional percussion. This is one of those rare albums that can serve as both a “gateway album” into contemporary classical and a deep listening experience for those already into the music. Some passages, such as the main melodic idea in Nico Muhly’s “Étude 3,” could almost become verses in a singer/songwriter tune if they were transcribed for voice and guitar. Other pieces evoke the undulating arpeggios of Philip Glass (“From The Invisible To The Visible”) or the pensive shifts between pointillism and lyricism found in Gorecki’s writing for strings (“Tooth and Nail”). But my favourite compositions on this album are its last two: “Tristan da Cunha” is an electroacoustic piece that employs a harmonically complex drone in constant evolution against melodies rising and falling from its surface. And Daníel Bjarnason’s “Sleep Variations” merits a review all its own—this longest and most exceptional piece on the album explores almost every extended technique possible on the viola, overdubbed into a dense horizontal vista with equal parts virtuosity and tenderness—a beautiful end to a great album. - Scott Scholz
Straum.is has been active since last summer, with writers Óli Dóri and Davið Roach documenting the local music scene and helping people discover the best new music. It is associated with the radio show Straumur on X977, which airs every Monday evening at 23:00.
A Boomtastic Concert Year by Davíð Roach & Óli Dóri The Boom Years are finally back… when it comes to the import of popular foreign music! Local music lovers still reminisce over the 2003-2008 era, when musicians such as Eric Clapton, Snoop Dogg and The Rapture graced our humble soil on a monthly, or even weekly basis. All that changed when the economy crashed and the currency with it, making booking foreign artists way more expensive. But this year seems to be very 2007-ish, in a good way. At the beginning of May it was announced that disco-hitmaker, guitarist and funk machine Nile Rodgers would be bringing his Chic outfit to the country and play in Laugardalshöll on July 17. Nile has penned and produced many of the best disco songs from the late 70’s, for his band Chic as well as Sisters Sledge and Diana Ross. Recently he has gathered notoriety for his funkafying work on Daft Punk’s new mega hit “Get Lucky.” News broke during the same week that R&B superstar Frank Ocean will play a show at the same stadium on July 16, the night before Chic. And that’s not all! Famed music festival All Tomorrow’s Parties will be held in Keflavík this June with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds headlining, and singing legend Dionne Warwick will belt tunes from her 70-year old pipes at Harpa that same month. More good things ahead, as Talking Heads virtuoso David Byrne will perform at Harpa with St. Vincent in August, and electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk will close the Iceland Airwaves festival in October. Whether this sudden increase in concerts by international artists is an economically sustainable development or if a lot of people will go bankrupt remains to be seen, but we at Straumur applaud this evolution wholeheartedly. We are also really excited about new Icelandic albums coming out. Singer-songwriter Jóhann Kristinsson just released his third album ‘Headphones,’ from which the single “No Need to Hesitate” landed on our list of best Icelandic songs from last year. The album is dramatic and beautiful, and Kristinsson has matured a lot as a songwriter since his last album, ‘Tropical Sunday’ released three years ago. The band Grísalappalísa recently stormed the scene with their song “Lóan er komin.” It includes members from the late Jakobínarína, Oyama and The Heavy Experience, and their debut album ‘Ali’ comes out this spring. Based on the first single, they sound like a good mixture of Purrkur Pillnikk and Megas, the latter of who provided the inspiration for the band’s name. We look forward to more! Finally, after hearing FM Belfast’s new single “We Are Faster Than You”, we can’t wait for a new album from the band. There is something about that song that reminds us of a futuristic band from a great 70s cartoon. Summer anthem, anyone?
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Watching & Puffin Tours from Reykjavík
We are located in the whale watching area at Reykjavík Old Harbour.
Sími/Tel. 861 3840
Departure times in: June - July - August
06.00 - 08.00 - 10.00 - 14.00
Always cheeses and red wine offer on Wednesday evenings www.facebook.com/kaffibarinn No photographing allowed
Published on May 24, 2013