Last night I found a compilation of Icelandic music entitled Songs from Northern Europe - Volume 1 on this blog: http://boxsetgo.blogspot.com/2008/09/songs-from-northern-europe-vol1-iceland.html.
To start loud or slow – that was the question – I decided on the latter with the beautiful “Stoffer” by Benni Hemm Hemm – a little piece of orchestral post-rock gold and the only track in the whole series sung in the native language. Ampop deliver guitar perfection not dissimilar to Leaves and just as melodic, Seabear bring the most beautiful breeze to “Arms” – like a perfect Alt Country pop song. Electro shouldn’t be as beautiful as Eberg make it – it’s rare that a pop song will nearly reduce you to tears but their 4 minutes is unbelievable – trust me you’ll play it twice!
“Marmalade Fires” is another beautiful song that drifts by effortlessly – perfect structure – perfect mood, perfect melody – Christ they should be the Band Of The Year, after the beauty of the first six tracks it’s time to give the mix a bloody good shake – Jakobinarina give us this in “His Lyrics Are Disastrous” a melodic punk song that once passed into your conscious will remain there for days. Adding further variety to the mix is Singapore Sling whose Goth/Shoegaze anthem “Guiding Light” is fantastically oppressive – like a delicious hangover it will grind away at you until submission.
Do you ever hear a song that is simply better than 99% of your entire record collection and you start getting angry that you never heard it before, you feel foolish and even cheated – ladies and gentlemen I give you Jóhann Jóhannsson – just listen – stop take a breather then put it on again – it is ridiculously brilliant! Hjaltalin give us great twee by way of 1966, Bang Bang are all bass and drums with a great rock sound. The mix finishes with a touching ode from Petur Ben and a sublime instrumental from Iceland's new genius Ólafur Arnalds. I didn’t include Sigur Rós on the mix as there was seriously no room for the old masters and yes I do know Björk and the Sugarcubes come from Iceland.
Iceland has only 320,000 people, apparently it is beautiful and sparse in it’s countryside yet it’s main city Reykjavik is fast becoming one of the coolest places in Europe – listening to the music it’s not hard to see why. I have convinced the wife to consider Iceland as the next holiday destination – does anyone fancy babysitting?
1. " Stoffer" – Benni Hemm Hemm
2. "Eternal Bliss" – Ampop
3. "Arms" – Seabear
4. " Whatever" – Leaves
5. " Inside Your Head" – Eberg
6. "Marmalade Fires" – múm
7. "His Lyrics Are Disastrous" – Jakobinarina
8. "Guiding Light" – Singapore Sling
9. "The Sun’s Gone And The Sky’s Turned Black" – Jóhann Jóhannsson
10. "Breaking The Waves" – Dikta
11. "Traffic Music" – Hjaltalin
12. "Find What You Get" – Bang Bang
13. "Melt Down The Knives" – Sin Fang Bous
14. "Just Like The End" – Biggi
15. "Romantika" – Apparat Organ Quartet
16. "Heard It All Before" – Emiliana Torrini
17. "Pack Your Bags" - Pétur Ben
18. "0048-0729" - Ólafur Arnalds