Tag: Reykjavik Iceland

Live Footage: VAR at Orgelsmidjan

Acclaimed Reykjavik-based post-rock collective VAR was founded in 2013 as a solo recording project of its founding member and creative mastermind Júliús Óttar Björgvinsson (vocals, guitar and piano). But shortly after he started the project, Björgvinsson began to feel as though his vision couldn’t be fully realized without assistance. So, he recruited those who were the closest to him — his wife Myrra Rós (synths, vocals), his brother Egil Björgvinsson (bass) and his friends Arnór Jónasson (guitar) and Adrni Freyr Þorgeirsson (drums). That lineup wrote and recorded the Vetur EP — and in the subsequent years after its release, the band managed to built up a fiercely loyal fanbase through relentless touring. 

After the release of the Vetur EP, the band went through a series of lineup changes: Ròs left the band as a result of competing professional and personal responsibilities and Sigurður Ingi Einarsson (drums) replaced Freyr Þorgeirsson. A smaller lineup forced a thorough reimagining and reworking of their sound — and the result was last year’s The Never Ending Year, which may arguably be the most ambitious album of their growing catalog.

Much like countless acts across the globe, the pandemic put the Icelandic act’s plans to support their new album with a tour on an indefinite hold. “After releasing an album and having no chance to play it live, we felt like we had to do something to give people at least a little taste of us playing these songs live,” VAR’s Júlíus Óttar Björgvinsson (vocals/guitar/keys) says in press notes. “VAR has always been about playing live and we always give everything we have to make the tension between us and the audience both peaceful and powerful. But since we could not play it live for people, we decided to make these live videos of us playing the songs at the organ workshop where we practice. We got our producer Eiður to do the sound for the videos and when he sent us the audio files Arnór brought that idea of releasing a live EP, because people had been asking us to do so. We were happy with the sound Eiður got from the session and how far it is from how the album sounds. It’s powerful, it’s raw and it’s honest. And that is VAR.”

The acclaimed Icelandic act recently released the four-song  Live at Orgelsmidjan EP, which was recorded at the band’s practice space, which also manages to be the country’s only pipe organ workshop. To celebrate the release of the EP, the band released live footage of the session, which manages to accurately capture the band’s intimate yet enormous sound paired with heart on sleeve lyricism. Starting off with the gorgeous, organ and guitar-led meditation “By The Ocean,” the EP quickly picks up the pace with the enormous and rousingly anthemic “Where to Find You,” which finds the band meshing elements of shoegaze, alt rock, arena rock and post rock. “Moments” is a slow-burning and delicate track centered around shimmering guitars with dramatic drumming and Júliús Óttar Björgvinsson’s achingly plaintive vocals that gradually becomes an enormous, arena rock friendly, towering ripper. The EP’s last single “Highlands” is centered around a classic alt rock sound structure — quiet verses with atmospheric guitars and synths and loud choruses with towering power chords.

The accompanying live footage manages to be split into intimately shot footage of the band performing the material or heading to their rehearsal space to play and some incredibly cinematic and awe-inspiring footage of their beautiful homeland. The footage seems to suggest that their surroundings have a direct impact on their sound.

Live Footage: Var Performs “Where To Find You” at Orgelsmidjan

VAR is an acclaimed Reykjavik-based post-rock collective that was founded in 2013 as the solo recording project of its founding member and creative mastermind Júliús Óttar Björgvinsson(vocals, guitar and piano). But shortly after the project’s founding, Björgvinsson felt as though his vision couldn’t be fully realized without additional help. So, he recruited those, who were the closest to him — his wife Myrra Rós (synths, vocals), his brother Egil Björgvinsson (bass) and his friends Arnór Jónasson (guitar) and Adrni Freyr Þorgeirsson (drums). That lineup wrote and recorded the Vetur EP — and in the subsequent years after its release, the band managed to built up a fiercely loyal fanbase through relentless touring.

The band went through a series of lineup changes after the release of Vetur EP: Ròs left the band as a result of competing professional and personal responsibilities and Sigurður Ingi Einarsson (drums) replaced Freyr. A smaller lineup necessitated a reimagining and reworking of the sound, which resulted in last year’s The Never Ending Year, arguably the most ambitious album of their growing catalog.

Much like countless acts across the world, the pandemic put the acclaimed Icelandic act’s tour plans on hold indefinitely. “After releasing an album and having no chance to play it live, we felt like we had to do something to give people at least a little taste of us playing these songs live,” VAR’s Júlíus Óttar Björgvinsson (vocals/guitar/keys) says in press notes. “VAR has always been about playing live and we always give everything we have to make the tension between us and the audience both peaceful and powerful. But since we could not play it live for people, we decided to make these live videos of us playing the songs at the organ workshop where we practice. We got our producer Eiður to do the sound for the videos and when he sent us the audio files Arnór brought that idea of releasing a live EP, because people had been asking us to do so. We were happy with the sound Eiður got from the session and how far it is from how the album sounds. It’s powerful, it’s raw and it’s honest. And that is VAR.”

The Icelandic band’s latest effort, the soon-to-be released four song Live at Orgelsmidjan EP, was recorded at the their practice space, which also serves was their homeland’s only pipe organ workshop. The EP’s latest single “Where To Find You” further establishes their sound, which — to my ears, at least — is a seamless synthesis of atmospheric shoegaze, classic alt rock and arena rock paired with heart-on-sleeve lyricism. But interestingly, because of its unfussy, you-are-there production, the song is imbued with the raw and urgent power of a live performance. And as a result, it gives the material an added emotional punch.

Live Footage: Reykjavik’s Óregla Releases an Expansive and Mischievous Single

Óregla is a rising, Reykjavik, Iceland-based jazz/progressive funk octet led by composer and trumpeter Daníel Sigurðsson that derives its name from the Icelandic word for chaos or irregularity. Featuring some of the country’s rising jazz musicians, the act is inspired by a diverse and eclectic array of influences including Igor Stravinsky, Miles Davis and Frank Zappa.

While Sigurðsson crafts compositions featuring arrangements centered around a brass section consisting of two tenor saxophones and a trumpet, guitar, bass, keys, drums and some bursts of orchestral percussion, the members of the act aim to push the boundaries of their music and sound with a funky and lively atmospheric and a sense of humor.

The act released their latest album Þröskuldur Góðra Vona (The Threshold of Good Hopes) earlier this year, and the album’s latest single “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” is a expansive track, centered around rapidly changing and very odd time signature changes as the song progresses — and some deft playing, that alternates between mischievous playfulness, contemplation and a breakneck swing.

The live footage features the band performing “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” at Tónkvísl for Reykjavik Sessions back in 2014.

New Video: Reykjavik’s VAR Releases an Earnest and Anthemic New Single Paired with an Intimate Visual

VAR is a Reykjavik-based post-rock collective that began in 2013 as the solo project of its founding member Júliús Óttar (vocals, guitar and piano) but shortly after its creation, Óttar realized that his vision couldn’t be fully realized without additional help. So he recruited those who were the closest to him — his wife Myrra Rós (synths, vocals), his brother Egil Björgvinsson (bass) and his friends Arnór Jónasson (guitar) and Adrni Freyr Þorgeirsson (drums). With that lineup, the act wrote and recored the Vetur EP — and over the course of the subsequent years, the band built up a fiercely loyal fanbase through relentless touring and live shows.

After the release of Vetur EP, the band went through a major lineup change. Ròs left the band as a result of competing professional and personal responsibilities and Sigurður Ingi Einarsson (drums) replaced Freyr — and as a result of a smaller lineup, a reimagining of the project’s sound was necessary. The Icelandic act’s latest album The Never Ending Year was released earlier this year through Spartan Records, and the album’s material may be the most ambitious and awe-inspiring of the act’s growing catalog. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Moments.” a song featuring alternating arena rock friendly choruses centered around enormous power chords and intimate, shoegazer-lke verses with shimmering guitars and ethereal vocals that sonically brought the wide-screen, cinematic quality of Sigur Ros with the intensity and the arena rock friendly sound of Foo Fighters to mind. The Never Ending Year’s latest single “Run” continues a run of infectious and swooning anthems centered around enormous power chord-driven riffs, ethereal vocals, thunderous drumming and some swooningly earnest songwriting. But interestingly, I think “Run” may be the most straightforward shoegazer-like track of the entire album. 

The recently released video for “Run” manages to adhere to our current COVID-19 pandemic related social distancing guidelines as we see each of the band’s members performing the song in a enormous and very sunny house, which reveals some of their homeland’s stunning terrain and a gorgeous sunset. 

New Video: Reykjavik’s VAR Releases and Intimately Shot Visual for Awe-Inspiring New Single

VAR is a Reykjavik-based post-rock collective that initially began in 2013 as the solo project of Júliús Óttar (vocals, guitar and piano) but shortly after its creation, Óttar realized that his vision couldn’t be fully realized without additional help, so he recruited those who were the closest to him — his wife Myrra Rós (synths, vocals), his brother Egil Björgvinsson (bass) and his friends Arnór Jónasson (guitar) and Adrni Freyr Þorgeirsson (drums). With that lineup, the act wrote and recored the Vetur EP — and over the course of the subsequent years, the band builds up a fiercely loyal fanbase through relentless touring and live shows. 

Because of competing responsibilities, Ròs was pulled in a different direction and Sigurður Ingi Einarsson (drums) replaced Freyr in a major lineup change that created a smaller lineup — and as a result, necessitated a reimagining of the project’s sound. Released earlier this year through Spartan Records, the Icelandic act’s latest album The Never Ending Year sees the band crating one of the label’s most awe-inspiring releases to date. “Moments,” the latest single off the album is a perfect example of that: centered around alternating arena rock friendly choruses with enormous power chords and intimate, shoegazer-like verses featuring shimmering guitars and ethereally sung vocals, the song manages to evoke the wide-screen cinematic air of acclaimed countrymen Sigur Ros with the intensity and anthemic hooks of Foo Fighters and others. 

The recently released video for “Moments” was shot in the town Stokkseyri, on Iceland’s southern coast, about an hour outside of Reykjavik: Stokkseryri is the home of the country’s only existing organ workshop — and coincidentally is owned by Óttar and Björgvinsson’s father. Featuring live footage of the band performing at the organ workshop, the video also offers an intimate look within the band’s world — and that of the small community of Stokkseryi. 

New Audio: Reykjavik’s Kælan Mikla Releases Live Concert-based Visual for Industrial Synth Wave-Inspired Single

Over the past handful of months this year, I’ve written a bit about the up-and-coming Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk trio Kælan Mikla. Last year was a breakthrough year for the Icelandic act: they played a set at The Netherlands’ Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude, and as you may recall, all of that happened before the release of Nótt eftir nott. 

The members of Kælan Mikla are currently in the middle of a lengthy Stateside tour that included a New York area stop last night. (You can check out the remaining tour dates below) Sadly, I had to miss that one — but in the meantime, the trio’s latest single off Nótt eftir nott is the brooding  “Hvernig kemst ég upp.” Centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, a motorik-like groove, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, thumping beats, the industrial-leaning, synth-driven track finds the Icelandic act employing a sound that will likely bring early Depeche Mode and New Order immediately to mind. 

Live Footage: Up-and-Coming Icelandic Post-Punk Act Kælan Mikla Perform Shimmering and Euphoric “Næturblóm”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk act Kælan Mikla, and as you may recall, this year has proven to be a breakthrough year for them so far: they played a critically applauded set at this year’s Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude — and all of this before the release of their forthcoming album Nótt eftir nott, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release through Artoffact Records. 
“Nornalagið,” Nótt eftir nott’s first single was a chilly yet dance floor friendly track, centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths. Punctuated by piercing waiting throughout, the track managed to be both eerily atmospheric and cinematic, evoking a storm slowly rolling across enormous skies. The album’s latest single “Næturblóm,” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor — centered around an arrangement of shimmering synths, angular bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming, industrial clang and clatter and Laufey Soffía’s ethereal vocals, the track manages to be atmospheric and cinematic; however, the song may arguably be one of the most euphoric songs they’ve written to date as it manages to recall Siouxsie and the Banshees and the classic 4AD Records sound simultaneously. 

Interestingly, as the band explains in press notes, the song’s title “Næturblóm” translates into the English as “Nightflowers,” and its lyrics were initially a poem that the band’s Laufey Soffía wrote and then gave to Sólveig Matthildur as a birthday present. ” It’s about how Laufey sees Sólveig as a beautiful flower that blooms in the winter darkness. An everlasting reminder of their friendship.” 

The members of the Icelandic post-punk trio will be playing an album release show on November 8, 2018 at this year’s Iceland Airwaves and to build up buzz for the momentous occasion and for a handful of live dates across Scandinavia, they’ve released a live video performing “Næturblóm” in an abandoned factory space. 

Comprised of Sólveig Matthildur,  Margrét Rósa and Laufey Soffía, the Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk act Kælan Mikla have had a breakthrough year so far: they played a critically applauded set at this year’s Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude — and all of this before the release of their forthcoming album Nótt eftir nott, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release through Artoffact Records.

The members of the Icelandic post-punk trio will be playing an album release show on November 8, 2018 at this year’s Iceland Airwaves but before then, the album’s first official single is the chilly yet dance floor friendly, synth-led track “Nornalagið” — and the track, which is centered by a motorik groove and punctuated by piercing wailing manages to be both eerily atmospheric and cinematic, evoking a storm rolling across enormous skies.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Brooding and Intimate Black and White Visuals for Fufanu’s “Tokyo”

Last year was a breakthrough year for the Reykjavik, Iceland-based indie rock/post-punk trio Fufanu as their sophomore effort Sports received attention nationally and internationally, thanks in part to critically applauded album singles like album title track, Sports,” which retains the synth-driven sound of their debut A Few More Days to Go while nodding at Can, Neu!  Joy Division and early ’80s Peter Gabriel,  and the slow-burning and moody  “Liability” and “White Pebbles.” And if you were frequenting this site, you’d recall that the Icelandic trio ended a breakthrough year with the release of a previously unreleased album single “Top of the Queens,” which was recorded during the Sports sessions and didn’t make the cut. 

Building upon a growing national and international profile, the members of the Icelandic post-punk trio recruited photographer Jonatan Gretarsson to direct and shoot the striking visuals for the moody and atmospheric album single “Tokyo.” Nodding at the gorgeous black and white photography and video work of the legendary Anton Corbjin, and perfume commercials, the incredibly intimate  video features the members of the band in individual and group portraits and tight close ups — and while capturing these brooding young men, there’s an underlying sense of their vulnerability, frailty, and ultimately their own loneliness. And as result, it further emphasizes the brooding nature of the song. 

2017 has been a breakthrough year for the Reykjavik, Iceland-based indie rock/post-punk trio  Fufanu.. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this past year, you’d recall that the band, currently comprised of founding members Kaktus Einarsson (vocals, guitar), whose father Einar was a member of The Sugarcaubes and Guðlaugur “Gulli” Einarsson (guitar, programming) (no relation, by the way) along with newest member, Erling Bang (drums) can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo met while at school. And according to the band’s founding duo, Katkus had glanced at Gulli’s iTunes and noticed that they had listened to a lot of the same techno and electronic music. After quickly bonding over mutual interests, the duo went into a studio and began writing and recording electronic music under the name Captain Fufanu. Interestingly, within a month of their formation, Kaktus and Gulli had started playing shows in and around their hometown.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the duo went into the studio to record what would be their full-length debut as Captain Fufanu; but in a strange twist of fate, the studio where Kaktus and Gulli had recorded the album was burgled. Naturally, everyone involved in the process presumed the album was lost. While many bands would be devastated by losing their life’s work in such a shitty fashion, Kaktus and Gulli put a positive spin on the ordeal, viewing it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves and their sound, as they were developing a growing technical and musical prowess. Coincidentally, Kaktus Einarsson had been spending time in London working on Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots and touring with the late and legendary Bobby Womack when he began writing lyrics. Simultaneously, Gulli had started to craft a completely revised sound, which according to Kaktus managed to convey exactly what he had been thinking and feeling at the time. The result was the duo pairing Kaktus’ brooding and ironically detached vocals with an arrangement that featured guitar, bass, drums, synths and other electronics. Armed with a new sound, the duo renamed the project Fufanu.

Fufanu’s first live set as Fufanu, with their new sound and material was at 2014’s Iceland Airwaves and they quickly became one of the most talked about bands of the entire festival. Right after the festival, they went into the studio to record their full-length debut, A Few More Days To Go, which was released to applause both nationally and internationally; in fact, with an even bigger profile, Fufanu toured with The Vaccines and others, and played some of Northern Europe’s and Scandinavia’s largest festivals, including the aforementioned Iceland Airwaves, JaJaJa Festival and others.

Released earlier this year, the band’s sophomore album Sports finds the band going through some significant changes — Kaktus and Gulli recruited Erling “Elli” Bang (drums) to further flesh their sound out, with the newly constituted trio refining their material’s sound and thematic concerns, represented through album title track  “Sports,” which retains the synth-driven sound of their debut while nodding at CanNeu!  Joy Division and early ’80s Peter Gabriel,  the slow-burning and moody  “Liability” and “White Pebbles.”  However, the highly buzzed about Icelandic trio begin the holiday season and close out the year, with “Top Of The Queens,” a track that was recorded during the Sports sessions and didn’t make the cut.

Of course, what makes an the release of a previously unreleased album track intriguing is the fact that they frequently give the listener — if they’re familiar with the album in question — some insight into the complex editorial decisions that comprise the making of an album. In some cases, you can immediately tell why a particular song wasn’t included — it just didn’t fit the tone and vibe of the album. In other cases, it’s not apparent. Sometimes, it’s a matter of a song floating around for a while and the band just is tired of the song or it’s an issue of not having a whole lot of time and something has to get cut — or a variety of other issues. Interestingly enough, “Top Of The Queens” manages to continue in a similar, anthemic hook-laden, synth-based rock vibe but it has a rougher, punk rock band in a dive bar edge to it.