Tag: Sigur Ros

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. 

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New Video: I Break Horses Releases a Brooding and Lonely Visual for “Depression Tourist”

Led by frontwoman Maria Linden and featuring Fredrik Balak, the Stockholm-based indie act I Break Horses have released two critically applauded albums: 2011’s full-length debut Hearts received praise from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, The Independent and others for material that possessed a luxurious grandeur and 2014’s Chiaroscuro, which found Linden crafting ambitious material with a cool, self-assuredness. Building upon a growing profile, Linden and Balak toured with M83 and Sigur Ros— and U2 played “Winter Beats” before their stage entrance during 2018’s Experience + Innocence tour.

Released yesterday through Bella Union, I Break Horses’ long-awaited third album Warnings was centered around Linden’s desire to take the time to make something entirely different — crafting martial with a strong emphasis on instrumental, cinematic music.  Much of the album’s material can trace its origins back to Linden watching a collection of her favorite films on her computer with the sound muted. As she did so, she began to make her own soundtrack sketches — and those initial sketches gradually evolved int songs. “It wasn’t until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics,” Linden says, “that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album.

Sonically, the album’s material consists of lush and sumptuously layered soundscapes featuring dreamy mellotrons, haunting loops, analog synths and layered vocals meant to create an immersive, dramatic tension on multiple levels. “It’s not a political album,” says Lindén, “though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the album’s creative process was also centered around several different dramas of its own:  “It has been some time in the making. About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home…” Linden says in press notes.

Warnings also finds Linden collaborating with producer and mixing engineer Chris Coady, who has worked with the likes of Beach House and TV on the Radio. But his experience and expertise with dense and cinematic sound wasn’t the only reason Linden recruited him to mix the album. “Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, ‘I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures.’ And I just knew he’d be the right person for this album.”

“Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music,” Lindén adds. “And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more ‘efficient.’ I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about “Neon Lights,” Warnings third single, a lush and cinematic track that managed to recall Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk and the Stranger Things soundtrack with a much-needed we-re-all-in-this-together air.  “Depression Tourist,” Warnings’ latest single is an eerie and atmospheric track, centered around a sparse arrangement of shimmering and ethereal synths and Linden’s voice fed through vocoder and other effects. And as a result, the song feels intimate and lonely, yet otherworldly. 

“I wanted this song to sound as if it was broadcasted from space, the loneliest place I could imagine,” Linden explains. “As I obviously couldn’t perform it up there I filmed this version in the loneliest field I could find in Malta.” Shot in black and white, the recently released live session features Linden and a synthesizer in the middle of a windswept corn field. The concept my be simple but it’s gorgeous and evocative. 

Lyric Video: Stockholm’s I Break Horses Releases a Shimmering and Cinematic New Single

Led by frontwoman Maria Linden and featuring Fredrik Balak, the Stockholm-based indie act I Break Horses have released two critically applauded albums: 2011’s full-length debut Hearts received praise from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, The Independent and others for material that possessed luxurious grandeur and 2014’s Chiaroscuro, which found Linden crafting ambitious material with a cool, self-assuredness. Building upon a growing profile, Linden wound up touring with M83 and Sigur Ros– and U2 played “Winter Beats” before their stage entrance during 2018’s Experience + Innocence tour. 

Slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Bella Union, I Break Horses’ long-awaited third album Warnings is reportedly centered around Linden’s desire to take the time to make something different — by crafting material with an emphasis on instrumental, cinematic music. As she watched a collection of her favorite films on her computer with the sound mute, she began to make her own soundtrack sketches, with those sketches gradually evolving into songs. “It wasn’t until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics,” says Lindén, “that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album.”

Sonically, the album’s material is centered around lush and sumptuous soundscapes — dreamy mellotrons, haunting loops, analog synths and layered lyrics paired together to create an immersive, dramatic tension on multiple levels. “It’s not a political album,” says Lindén, “though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.”  Interestingly, the album’s creative process involved several different dramas on its own right: “It has been some time in the making. About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home…” Linden says in press notes.

Warnings also finds Linden collaborating with producer and mixing engineer Chris Coady, who has worked with the likes of Beach House and TV on the Radio. But his experience and expertise with dense and cinematic sound wasn’t the only reason Linden recruited him to mix the album. “Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, ‘I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures.’ And I just knew he’d be the right person for this album.”

Adds Linden, “Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music,” Lindén says. “And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more ‘efficient’. I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!”

“Neon Lights,” Warnings’  third and latest single is a lush and cinematic track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a motorik groove, thumping beats, a rousingly anthemic hook and Linden’s plaintive and expressive vocals. And while recalling Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk and the Stranger Things soundtrack, the song has a much-needed we’re-in-this-together air. The track as Linden explains is “anthem for all of us who have ever felt like we didn’t fit in. It is trying to give a glimpse of hope to all outsiders who feel like they can’t find their way and to show the world that being a ‘misfit’ is a beautiful thing, not something to be pushed aside.”

New Audio: Icelandic Duo Hugar Releases a Brooding and Gorgeously Cinematic Single

Hugar is an up-and-coming indie duo, comprised of longtime Seltjarnarnes, Iceland-born friends  Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson. Meeting when they were children, who played in a number of local bands,  Þórisson and  Jónsson quickly became friends. Back in 2013, Þórisson had collaborated with internationally acclaimed Icelandic artist Olafur Arnalds and was working in a local studio while Jónsson studied architecture. And as the story goes, when the owner of Þórisson’s studio went on tour, the duo started casually writing material together for fun. During these largely impromptu recordings sessions, the duo eventually wound up writing the material that would comprise their 2014 self-titled debut, which was independently released. 

Initially released as a free download on the duo’s website, their self-titled album quickly attained buzz across social media and the blogosphere:  The album quickly averaged over 430,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify, as “Inngangur” amassed over 20 million Spotify streams globally and “Felt” amassed over 12 million Spotify streams. The album received praise from the likes of The Line of Best Fit and The Independent — and as a result of their growing national and international profile, the duo have made appearances at festivals including Iceland Airwaves. 

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Sony Masterworks Records, the duo’s highly anticipated sophomore album Varða translates to English as “cairn,” a tiny rock tower that heralded the way as the next cairn would always be visible from its predecessor. Historically, such markers wound up signaling process for Icelandic travelers heading towards the country’s National Parliament — known as one of the oldest existing legislatures in the world. In fact, as a result of the country’s geographic location, which often meant extended daylight during the solstice, travelers used varða to help them find their way rather than the stars. 

Interestingly, the duo began quietly working on the material that would eventually comprise Varða as early as 2014, which they created out of their own studio. “There was never a plan to make our first album; it just happened,” Þórisson says in press notes. “This time around, we set out to make a record that functioned as a whole piece where everything was related. It’s more polished from beginning to end.” Jónsson adds, “The studio enabled us to experiment and explore. We had the freedom to do everything we wanted without barriers. Under normal conditions, you have to rent a studio. We moved at our own pace and learned a lot about being patient and how to work together.”

Sonically, the duo began using an increasing amount of electronic flourishes, which wound up expanding their sonic palette. And with the majority of the recording sessions taking place at night, the material wound up being imbued with a nocturnal vibe. “We’re obviously very affected by our environment,” Þórisson admits in press notes. “Recording at night in the summertime when it’s bright is an energy that doesn’t make sense. As a human being, you’re supposed to be awake when it’s light and asleep when it’s dark. When the sun is out all day, you get this weird energy. You’re tired, but you want to keep going. Iceland is an anomaly in general. We have earthquakes, glaciers melting, and avalanches. It’s a ridiculous place to live for man. At the same time, it’s so beautiful that you can’t escape it.”

Varða’s later single is the slow-burning and brooding “Logn.” Centered around a composition featuring gently arpeggiated keys and a gorgeous string arrangement, the new single manages to be cinematic while hinting at acclaimed countrymen Sigur Ros, as it possesses a similar yearning quality. 

Theodore is a critically applauded, Athens, Greece-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and composer, whose schooling in piano and traditional Greek folk music eventually led to a professional music career in London, where he studied Music Composition in 2011. As a composer and singer/songwriter, Theodore meshes classical compositions and arrangements with subtle electronic production and rock instrumentation to create a sound that’s atmospheric, cinematic that nods at psych rock, prog rock and experimental rock — and it shouldn’t be surprising that the Greek composer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist cites Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Manos Hadjidakis, Vangelis Papathanasiou, Nils Frahm, The National, Olafur Arnalds and Max Richter as being major influences on his work and sound. “I like a composer or a band because when I listen to the music or attend a concert I am just getting lost in the atmosphere,” Theodore explains in press notes. “I understand that orchestral music is something that I am really into and I will try to test my self in the future.”

Theodore has written compositions for Matina Megla’s Window, Vladan Nikolic’s film Bourek and he was commissioned to write a new, live score for Buster Keaton’s classic, 1928 silent comedy The Cameraman, which he and his band performed during  a screening at the Temple of Zeus. But interestingly enough, his sophomore album It Is But It’s Not, which was performed live at London’s Abbey Road Studio 2 has been his breakthrough effort as the accompanying performance video has amassed more than 2 million YouTube views — and as a result, the Greek composer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has played sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Reeperhbahn Festival, Eurosonic Nooderslag, Release Festival and SXSW. Adding to a growing profile, he has opened for Sigur Ros and DIIV, and has received praise from a number of major media outlets, including Clash Magazine, Music WeekTsugi, FGUK, Gaffa and Szene, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. Oh, and I must add that “Towards (for what is to come)” is currently playlisted on NPR’s All Songs 24/7 and Germany’s Flux Passport Approved.

Theodore’s third, full-length album Inner Dynamics is slated for a November 2, 2018 release and the album finds him thematically looking inward to examine the dichotomies (and dualities) of his identity in order to seek new creative potential. “On It Is But It’s Not, I tried to explore how the opposite elements in the universe interact, how they fight and how without the one you can’t have the other.” Theodore says, adding, “For Inner Dynamics, I was trying to express my urge to connect the conscious and subconscious part of myself so I can be creative. It’s an understanding that humans are not just one thing, and they shouldn’t try to hide certain elements of their personality because society likes to put labels of who we are. It’s the different sides of my self that makes who I am.” Inner Dynamics‘ third and latest single “Disorientation” clocks in at a little over 6 minutes, and it finds Theodore’s sound nodding at dramatic film scores, Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead-like atmospherics, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and Rush-like prog rock expansiveness, centered around Theodore’s yearning vocals and slick production.

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Hearts Hearts Release Symbolism-Filled, Animated Visuals for “Sugar/Money”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Vienna, Austria-based indie rock/experimental rock band Hearts Hearts, and as you may recall, with the release of  “I Am In” and “AAA” off their critically applauded debut album Young,  the Austrian act, comprised of David Österle, Daniel Hämmerle, Johannes Mandorfer, and Peter Paul Aufreitet, initially developed a reputation for crafting brooding, slow-burning and elegiac electro pop that drew comparisons to the likes Sigur Ros, Flying Lotus, The Darcys and Radiohead from critics and media outlets internationally. 

As the story goes, after the release of Young, the band’s Peter Paul Aufreiter and Johannes Mandorfer sent two radically different sound snippets to their bandmate David Österle — an aggressive and jazzy piano loop titled “Phantom” and an electronic drum take recorded overseas titled “Island,” which interestingly enough is the German word for the country of Iceland. Upon receiving those two sound snippets from his bandmates, Österle frantically began attempting to put these disparate pieces together; to synchronise what was never meant to be unified, and then started singing over the results. Goods/Gods, the Austrian act’s genre-defying sophomore album reportedly draws from the work of Bon Iver, Jamie XX and Son Lux while taking its thematic cues from the in between spaces and undefined borderlines in meaning, symbolized by the slash in every title on the album. And as a result, the material finds the band exploring emotional and moral ambiguities, and the ineffectiveness and confusions that the dichotomies and borderlines that define modern society. As the band’s Hämmerle says, the band prefers to think “think in options,” seeing the slash as representing an openness and flexibility in meaning; in similarities as much as in difference.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the aforementioned album single “Phantom/Island,” a wildly experimental track that possessed elements of jazz, electronica, indie rock and experimental pop in a way that brings to mind Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead, Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington— but while conjuring a mix of anguish and ecstasy, yearning and desire within a turn of a musical phrase. “Sugar/Money,” the  album’s latest single is a bit more straightforward than some of its predecessors as the song finds the band drawing from early 80s New Wave, ambient electronica and indie rock in a way that feels dimly familiar but not quite, while focusing on an accessible and infectious hook that gives the song a sense of immediacy. As the band’s frontman David Österle says in press notes, “Living sometimes seems to be a permanent process of self-discipline. We are all constantly running for a jam tomorrow. Sugar keeps us highly energetic. Life doesn’t encourage us to experience the future as a blind joyride. Let’s catch some moments of exhilaration, damn, let’s feel the thrill of immediateness.”

Created by Shorsch Feierfeil, the recently released video for “Sugar/Money” employs the use of incredibly fluid line animations that quickly morph into different arrays of symbolic imagery  that further emphasizes the song’s longing. 

New Video: Austria’s Hearts Hearts Release Gorgeously Shot Surreal Visuals for Album Title Track “Goods/Gods”

With the release of “I Am In” and “AAA” off their critically applauded debut album Young, the  Vienna, Austria-based quartet Hearts Hearts, comprised of  David Österle, Daniel Hämmerle, Johannes Mandorfer, and Peter Paul Aufreitet, initially developed a reputation for crafting brooding, slow-burning and elegiac electro pop that drew comparisons Sigur Ros, Flying Lotus, The Darcys and Radiohead among others. Thematically, Young focused on tension and release — in the sense of someone desperately attempting to break through and out of the familiar and debilitating patterns of their own life.

After Young’s release, the band’s Peter Paul Aufreiter and Johannes Mandorfer sent two radically different sound snippets to their bandmate David Österle — an aggressive and jazzy piano loop titled “Phantom” and an electronic drum take recorded overseas titled “Island,” which interestingly enough is the German word for the country of Iceland. Upon receiving those two sound snippets from his bandmates, Österle frantically began attempting to put these disparate pieces together; to synchronise what was never meant to be unified, and started singing over it. It resulted in the Austrian act’s highly-anticipated, genre-defying sophomore album officially drops today, and the album reportedly finds the band drawing sonically from Bon Iver, Jamie XX and Son Lux while thematically focusing on the in between spaces and undefined borderlines in meaning, symbolized by the slash on all of the album’s song titles. Interestingly, the material finds the band exploring emotional and moral ambiguities, and the ineffectiveness and confusions that dichotomies and borderlines that define modern society. As the band’s Hämmerle says, the band prefers to think “think in options,” seeing the slash as representing an openness and flexibility in meaning; in similarities as much as in difference.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Phantom/Island” a genre-mashing and genre-defying track that possessed elements of jazz, electronica, indie rock and experimental pop in a way that brings to mind Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead, Flying Lotus, and Kamasi Washington  and “Sugar/Money,” Goods/Gods’ most straightforward track as there’s a decided focus on accessible and infectious hooks while nodding at early 80s New Wave. Goods/Gods’ latest single, album title track “Goods/Gods” is centered around stuttering beats, an arpeggiated synth loop, some industrial clang and clatter, while revealing soaring hooks and a tight groove within a song that sounds deeply indebted to Flying Lotus. 

Directed by Rupert Höller, the recently released video for “Goods/Gods” continues a run of gorgeous and cinematically shot and surrealistic visuals — in particular, the new video balances a hypnotic vibe with a contemporary sense of isolation and anxiousness.