The Silent Ballet likes the new Jóhann Jóhannsson album "The miners' hymns": http://thesilentballet.com/dnn/Home/tabid/36/ctl/Details/mid/384/ItemID/4118/Default.aspx
May's edition of London-based Scandinavian music showcase Ja Ja Ja will take place on the 26th and will feature Eleanoora Rosenholm, Retro Stefson and Young Dreams. This will be the last one before they take a 3-month break over the summer.
Better late than never, PopMatters reviews Icelandic act Kimono and their excellent album "Easy music for difficult people": http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/138744-kimono-easy-music-for-difficult-people/
It's a bit intimidating to write a review about a classical musician when you yourself are not classically trained. Without the tools to fully express why the mechanics of the music engages emotions like a sack of bricks (or your other favorite blunt object of choice), the writer is left feeling not unlike Mary Beth Hurt's character in "Interiors" -- all emotion with no proper outlet for expression. And while this handicap hasn't deterred me from spilling a good deal of (virtual) ink in praise of Ólafur Arnalds' work, it does make me acutely aware of my own shortcomings.
The second of a three-night residency at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, Arnalds and his freshly assembled string quartet took the stage requesting that the people cloistered at the back of the room gather around them. A large portion of the audience did just that, creating an atmosphere that was not unlike an elementary school reading circle. (Perhaps the cliché is true and everyone really is looking for intimacy in LA?)
With the majority of material culled from last year's standout album "...And they have escaped the weight of darkness" and 2009's "Found songs", Arnalds literally and figuratively had the audience at his feet -- mixing minimalist piano refrains with densely layered strings, and hand-trigged samples. The result was a series melancholic, chillingly beautiful soundscapes removed from both place and time.
The transformative music was punctuated by brief interludes, where Arnalds, despite musing that the audience probably enjoyed his music more than his speaking (Don't sell your oration skills too short dude!), carefully set up each piece with a small (and often humorous) insight into the process. Creating a track that's "not dumb enough" ("Ljósiđ") can cost you a payday and a spot in a bathtub commercial -- but it can result in a sweet and gently moving song. It doesn't take a tragedy to write a sad song -- unless one is willing to count a bumpy, overnight ride on Eastern European roads, paired with too many nightcaps, as such. It is, however, very difficult to write under the Los Angeles sun when one is used to a rainy Reykjavik spring. Despite the burden of good weather, Arnalds did debut a piano-heavy piece titled "Los Angeles 2" -- penned a mere 24 hours before. While not necessarily an homage to the city (as Arnalds himself admits, it's a second attempt named after the place he was writing), it was a distinct pleasure to get a glimpse of the creative process, even when left unable to fully articulate ones' awe.
- Laura Studarus
Check out a The Line of Best Fit live session with Icelandic act Rökkurró: http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/2011/04/rokkurro-sjonarspil-the-line-of-best-fit-session/
Sigur Rós has posted a bunch of old demo material on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/sigur-ros/sets
Ja Ja Ja has confirmed their April showcase for the 28th and it will feature Hymns from Nineveh, Feldberg and Zebra & Snake as selected by The Line of Best Fit: http://www.jajajamusic.com/news.php?id=62
OT, but worth noting: Nordisk Film and TV Fond have partnered with Eurocinema and Diva.AG to create an on-demand Scandinavian film festival which will be making its North American premiere on May 1. Read the press release: http://eurocinema.com/festivals.php
Pitchfork reviews the new Sin Fang (nee Sin Fang Bous) album "Summer echoes": http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15204-summer-echoes/
Icelandic act FM Belfast have signed to for the release of their new album "Don't want to sleep", due out in June. The first single "Underwear" is already available digitally and will be released as a 7" on March 25.
Berlin-based Scandinavian music clubnight Nordic By Nature has a new mixtape up for March: http://soundcloud.com/shibie/nordic-by-nature-birdy-talk-march-mix
Iceland Music Export reports on For a Minor Reflection's upcoming US dates centered around their appearance at SXSW: http://www.icelandmusic.is/News/1712/For-a-Minor-Reflection-Hit-US-Shores/default.aspx
Iceland's Jónsi was announced as the winner of the inaugural Nordic Music Prize, awarded this past weekend at by:Larm in Oslo: http://nordicmusicprize.com/
Under the Radar reviews Icelandic artist Ólafur Arnalds performing live in LA: http://www.undertheradarmag.com/reviews/olafur_arnalds_at_the_echoplex_los_angeles_ca/