Guardian Iceland Airwaves Special
It began in an airplane hanger at Reykjavík Airport, now Iceland Airways is the country's biggest music festival. This year, a record number of native and international bands will congregate in the capital city for Iceland Airwaves 2008 (October 15-19) and www.guardian.co.uk/music has ten exclusive tracks available for download from a selection of up and coming Icelandic acts handpicked by the festival organisers.
Download the 10 tracks @
FM Belfast - Lotus
Boy-girl duo subverting electro-pop by covering Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name, presumably because you wouldn't catch Zack and the boys near a synthethiser - them being tools of the capitalist oppressor and all …
Dísa - Söknuður
Ethereal lounge-pop of the Bristol school from a Reykjavík-based singer-songwriter. Think Massive Attack if they had discovered a taste for gothic Mexicana and lived by the beach.
Lay Low - By and By
Icelandic chart-topper who a-rambles and a-rolls along like Johnny Cash without any of the issues. "By and by we'll realise / how I've done you wrong," she sings. With an apology this sweet, you'd have to forgive her.
Gus Gus - Moss
120bpm and trance bug-outs aren't what spring to mind the first time you see Iceland's beautifully peaceful scenery. But with lyrics rooted in their countryside ("Drive me into the highlands / Throw me into the soft moss") Gus Gus hope to change your mind.
Bloodgroup - Chuck
Timbaland-thieving electro pranksters throw all the sound effects they can afford at New Order's legacy. Their MySpace says they sound like "Party!". Succinct, but about right.
Steed Lord - Feel the Heat
Sex (those filthy heavy-breathing noises), drugs (they say they're from "New Crack City", we think they mean "Reykjavík") and crunk'n'roll. They wear a lot of neon. Must help with visibility during those long winter nights.
Mammút - Svefnsykt
Winners of Iceland's national battle of the bands in 2004, this hot and fast-moving five-piece are spitting in the face of every journo that's ever described Icelandic music as "glacial".
Hjaltalín - Traffic Music
Like their countryman Benni Hemm Hemm, Hjaltalín are not afraid of a horn or twenty. Other English village fair staples include the bashful vocal and a love of a sing-a-long chorus.
For a Minor Reflection - Kastljós
Epic drums, long sections of guitar sawing and absolutely no vocals. What's the Icelandic for shoe gazing? "Skór rannsakandi" we think.
Seabear - I Sing I Swim
Deceptively creepy love song that starts devotional and ends kind of medical - there's multiple references to skin and teeth in among the fey.
Ólafur Arnalds - 3055
Piano-led orchestral composition inspired, according to the label, by Shakespeare and ice skating. To our ears, it's more Baz Luhrmann than the Globe theatre, but that never did Des'ree any harm.
Reykjavík! - Repticon
They say they were formed in the scalding lava of Iceland's most active volcano 2,000 years ago. That would account for the Fugazi-inspired hysterics, but not the catchy chorus.