Reykjavik-based post-punk/industrial act and JOVM mainstays Kælan Mikla— Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir (synths, vocals), Margrét Rósa Dóru-Harrysdóttir (bass), and Laufey Soffía Þórsdóttir (vocals) — had a breakthrough year back in 2018: The Cure’s Robert Smith championed the Icelandic trio, and handpicked them to open for the legendary British act’s festival stops through the UK and US. Adding to a big year, Kælan Mikla played at that year’s Roadburn Festival. And they toured with King Dude. Interestingly enough, all of that happened before the release of their critically applauded third album Nótt eftir nott.
Undir Köldum Norðumljósum, the Reykjavik-based trio’s upcoming, Barði Jóhannsson-produced fourth album is slated for an October 15, 2021 release through their longtime label home Artoffact Records. Undir Köldum Norðumljósum reportedly sees the trio crafting lush and cinematic material centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, ethereal vocals sung in their native Icelandic, spine-chilling background screams, relentless motorik grooves and programmed drums while pulling the listener into their unique world full of folklore, fairytales, magic, spells and mysticism. The album will also feature a guest spot from Alcest, who toured with the trio across the European Union before the pandemic.
In the lead-up to the album’s release I’ve managed to write about two of the album’s released singles:
- “Sólstöður,” a brooding and cinematic track centered around droning and shimmering synths, nightmarish screams and an ethereal and gorgeous vocal melody. Sonically, “Sólstöður,” evokes horror soundtracks — especially those featuring witches and demons slinking out into the night to perform ancient rituals involving human or animal sacrifices. “’Sólstöður’ is an ode to the darkest night of the year, when witches summon winter spirits in the frozen vastness of Icelandic landscapes,” the members of the Icelandic trio explain in press notes. “The song represents the strength of unity, Kælan Mikla in its truest form, fueled by the power of harsh and raw nature.”
- “Ósýnileg,” a dance floor friendly track centered around shimmering and atmospheric synth arpeggios, relentless motorik grooves, rapid fire, four-on-the-floor beats and blood curdling screams in the background. Interestingly, the track manages to evoke strobe lit discos and howling wintry winds and unexplained phenomena simultaneously.
Undir Köldum Norðumljósum‘s third and latest single “Stormurinn” finds the trio crafting a decidedly cinematic take on their goth-inspired sound. While you’ll still hear the shimmering synth arpeggios, rapid fire four-on-the-floor, propulsive bass lines, motorik grooves and razor sharp hooks of its predecessors paired with the trio’s ethereal vocals. But unlike its predecessors, you’ll hear some gorgeous and fluttering flute floating over the brooding arrangement and howling winds — to help emphasize the song’s brooding atmospherics.
“Stormurinn’ means ‘The Storm’ in Icelandic. This song is about dancing around a bonfire on the beach on a stormy weather night charged with the power of wind and thunder,” the members of Kælan Mikla explain in press notes.
Album pre-order is available here: https://kaelanmikla.bandcamp.com