A Collection of Icelandic Album Reviews by Wim Van Hooste

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Svavar Knútur "Ölduslóð"

Svavar Knútur began his musical career as singer-guitarist in the band Hraun (Lava). After two albums, the members went their own way. Troubadour Svavar, from the West Fjords, started out as a singer-songwriter in the fjord folk subgenre. His musical influences are both Nick Drake and Nick Cave, both Bonnie Prince Billy and Kris Kristofferson as Leonard Cohen and Cat Stevens. "Ölduslóð" (way of the waves) is the third solo album, the successor of Kvöldvaka (Campfire Songs, 2009) and Amma (songs for my grandmother, 2010). All these albums are intimate, acoustic records. All albums have a cover drawing made by Svavar’s daughter. For his third piece, he had both vocal and piano support from the Czech artist Markéta Irglová. Her input results in a good synergy with Knútur’s voice. In the second song there is a funny reference to the Bloodhound Gang: ‘The roof is on fire’. Svavar additionally holds a penchant for putting as many as possible la la la's into his songs, such as in the song "Komdu". It is a quiet album that ends with the religious "Prayer for the dead". Ölduslóð is by far the strongest piece of Svavar’s oeuvre.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tilbury "Exorcise"

Tilbury is a supergroup with members of the bands Skakkamanage, Jeff Who?, Moses Hightower, Valdimar, Amiina, Sin Fang and Hjaltalín. The band was soon enthusiastically received in their homeland: the Icelandic Belle and Sebastian has risen. It all started in the summer of 2010 as a solo project of Þormóður dagsson, the drummer/ex-drummer of Skakkamanage / Jeff Who? / Hudson Wayne. He is the brother of the renowned cartoonist Hugleikur dagsson.
Debut "Exorcise" was released on the Record Records label in May 2012.
This jumble of artists makes folky pop music with synthesizers, indeed, in the vein of Belle and Sebastian. Tilbury however develops its own sound, perhaps at times a little too smooth.
The album starts strongly with the single "Tenderloin". Furthermore, the songs get a bit sleepy, to awaken again with "Picture”. Towards the end, the long player is finally rougher and the devil exorcised. "Eclectic boogaloo" is my favorite track because of the witty guitar. "Filet Mignon", the valve and the ninth song, is the other pearl.