sunnudagur, apríl 26, 2009

Icelandic Music Compilations: Made in Iceland 1 (Iceland Music Export)

Made in Iceland - 15 Tracks of Sheer Delight
"It's hard to believe anything with a beat could grow in a landscape as otherworldly and physically inhospitable as that of Iceland. Mother Nature, in all her harshest majesty, is the headline act here. She is not easily upstaged. Nevertheless, in a small rehearsal space on a snowy, windblown side street in central Reykjavik, a local band called the Sugarcubes is busy proving that rock & roll is not only alive and well here but mutating into shapes as odd and wondrous as the geologist's paradise outside."
Words of David Fricke, Rolling Stone, July 1988
The above is how David Fricke summed up the experience of his first visit to Iceland in Rolling Stone magazine, exactly 20 years ago. The Sugarcubes succeeded in creating a cultural export that has prevailed ever since and continues to inspire their fellow countrymen and women. The Icelandic music scene has flourished in the last two decades and has repeatedly hit the headlines of Rolling Stone and other world class music magazines, as well as broadsheets and broadcast media. The success and profile of Icelandic music has continued to expand with the likes of Björk, Sigur Rós and a growing number of Icelandic bands and artists touring the world and contributing to the international scene. Music lovers from around the globe flock to events such as the Iceland Airwaves Festival to discover the latest trends in the ever-evolving sonic melting pot that is the Icelandic music scene.
The creative and playful force that characterizes the Icelandic music is constantly vibrant and evolving. The Made in Iceland project showcases 15 of the key artists who have released albums this year, and are working on promoting themselves internationally.

FM Belfast "Lotus"
Iceland's FM Belfast started out as a duo during Christmas 2005 when Árni R Hlöðversson and Lóa H. Hjalmtysdottir made a song as a present for their friends. What was initially thought of as a studio concern became a live band in the summer of 2006 when Árni and Lóa performed an art opening in a cave in the Faeroe Islands. Later that year Árni Vilhjálmsson and Örvar Þ. Smárason (múm) joined the band. 2007 saw FM Belfast establish themselves as one of Iceland's premier live shows, playing the closing set at that year's Airwaves festival. Onstage, FM Belfast's membership varies from 3 to 8 players depending on who can make it. This year, the group hit the road playing festivals in Europe and the U.S, garnering universal praise. The Austin Chronicle listed them as one of the bands to watch at SxSW and the Denver Post named them one of the top 10 new finds. Spin Magazine caught on and made them Artist Of The Day. FM Belfast have just completed a remix of múm's Dancing Behind My Eyelids, which will be released this summer. The band is currently preparing to release their debut album, How to make friends, this fall.

Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson –

Steed Lord "Who U Wit?"
Collectively known as Steed Lord, foursome M.E.G.A., Kali, Demo and AC Bananas grind out their own genre of club music with finesse. Sporting shamelessly filthy beats, mad melodies, crunk synths and killer hooks, the band’s patented brand of club bangers coupled with their clear creative vision (they recently designed prints for H&M retail which sold out last fall in over 52 countries) make up a unique experience. Steed Lord have generated an impressive amount of buzz in the band’s relatively short lifespan, and the imminent release of their début full length is sure to increase their notoriety even further. Already, the band has played shows in Europe and the US, been remixed by legends like DJ Mehdi, Crookers, Mano & DJ Klever and appeared on more blogs, mixtapes and magazines than you could imagine.
Contact: Manger, Róbert Aron Magnússon –

Seabear "Libraries"
Seabear’s enchanting melodies and soft-spoken aesthetic has brought the band great levels of success since its inception as a solo project for founder Sindri Már Sigfússon. Originally envisioned as a way to pass boredom for Sindri, he found himself in great demand from a rapidly growing fan base after self-releasing the Singing Arc EP in 2004. Drafting in a couple of friends to help with live shows, Seabear quickly evolved into a full-blown, seven strong band that has entertained crowds all across the world, both in a live setting and with their instant-classic début, The Ghost That Carried Us Away, released in 2007 by Morr Music. Still touring on the strength of that LP, Seabear is already rehearsing material for their follow up full-length, while Sindri Már keeps the creative juices flowing by scoring documentaries and his new solo project, Sin Fang Bous which will be released via Morr Music in early 2009.
Contact: Label representative, Florian Zimmer –

Emiliana Torrini "Fireheads"
Following on from her critically acclaimed sets, Love In The Time Of Science and Fisherman's Woman, Icelandic songstress Emiliana Torrini’s latest LP, Me And Armini, sees her working once again with her long time producer/collaborator Dan Carey. The resulting album is a hugely ambitious and aspirational pop record with Emilíana’s soaring voice centre stage, bolstered by a rich gamut of musical styles. The pedigree paring of Emiliana's song writing and Carey's sonic alchemy previously combined to world-beating effect when they co-wrote/produced 'Slow' for Kylie Minogue, and individually when Emilíana sang ‘Gollum’s Song’ on the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack. Suffice to say their latest offspring already looks destined to top 2008 year-end lists.
Manager, Robert Linney –

Bang Gang "The World is Gray"
Barði Jóhannsson has been making music under the Bang Gang moniker for well over a decade now, gaining international notoriety for his ambitious, carefully-crafted take on melancholy pop. Bang Gang’s 2000 début, You, was met with great fanfare and critical revelry, while the follow-up, 2003’s Something Wrong, cemented his artistic and commercial success. Jóhannsson’s notable 2003 collaboration with French artist Keren Ann, Lady & Bird, and a slew of other projects have also served to further his career. Bang Gang’s third full-length, Ghosts from the Past, is currently being released in various markets worldwide to critical acclaim.

Contact: Barði Jóhannsson -

Hjaltalín "Traffic Music"
Hjaltalín are Iceland's newest soon-to-be exports. Nominated for five Icelandic Music Awards last March, they went on to win the ‘Best Songwriter’ and ‘Brightest Hope’ categories. Hailing from Reykjavík, Hjaltalín is as promising as any of the other beautiful and eclectic artists the country has thrown up. With eight members, it's difficult to determine whether they should be called a small orchestra, a mutated, overgrown rock band or something else entirely. Besides the regular guitar, bass and drums, the band also uses piano, accordion, bassoon, clarinet, cello and a violin, to compliment the exquisite lilt of Högni and Sigga's vocals. Their debut album, Sleepdrunk Seasons, released to great acclaim in Iceland last December, was produced by Benni Hemm Hemm and Gunni Tynes of múm. The album is due for imminent Scandinavian-wide release and will hit the UK and the rest of Europe on October 6th.
Contact: Hjaltalín –

Ólöf Arnalds "Klara"
A self trained guitarist and master of a variety of instruments, Icelandic folk singer Ólöf Arnalds has been a prominent figure in her native music scene for a number of years. Between 2003 and 2007, Ólöf was an active member of múm, contributing violin, viola, guitar, and vocals both live and on record. However, it's her solo debut, Við og við, that continues to garner widespread acclaim. Produced by Kjartan Sveinsson from Sigur Rós, Við og við won Best Alternative Album at the 2007 Iceland Music Awards as well as 'Record of the Year' at Iceland's biggest daily newspaper, Morgunblaðið, beating out both Björk and múm. Ólöf has been chosen to play this years Womex and is currently working on a new album, due in 2009.
Contact: Manager, Stuart Rogers -

Borko "Shoo Ba Ba"
Borko or Björn Kristjánsson is the glowing light mirrored in the eyes of women all over the world and his music serves as a shining beacon to that effect. On his latest offspring, entitled Celebrating Life, Borko brings together melancholy and rhythm-machines in a unique way, playing on his passion for the repetitive and altogether explosive enthusiasm. It is a scintillating blend. Borko has been prolific in writing music for both theatre and modern dance as well as honing the art of "lifskunstner" to a frolicky science. Everywhere he goes, he brings joy. Early 2008, Borko successfully undertook a European tour with múm that coincided with the international release of Celebrating Life via Morr Music. This fall, Borko is set to go on a four-week tour of Europe with labelmates and fellow Icelanders Seabear, as well as performing at German Showcase festivals Popkomm in Berlin and Reeperbahn in Hamburg.
Contact: Label representative, Florian Zimmer –

Valgeir Sigurðsson "Focal Point"
Best known for his work as a collaborator and producer Valgeir has for the past decade provided a breeding ground for numerous local and international artists in his Greenhouse Recording Studios in Reykjavik. He stepped forward in 2006 with the launch of boutique label Bedroom Community, in collaboration with composers Nico Muhly and Ben Frost, and released his long due solo album Ekvílibríum in September 2007 to great critical acclaim. Valgeir has since toured Europe and the U.S. twice over promoting the record, and is now in the process of writing its follow up. An avid composer, Valgeir has also been confirmed to score the much-anticipated Icelandic film Dreamland.
Contact:Bedroom Community –

Ólafur Arnalds "3055"
Only 21 years of age, Ólafur hails from the suburban Icelandic town, Mosfellsbær He has immersed himself completely in the world of delicate symphonic compositions in a near weightless orchestral undertaking. His debut, Eulogy for Evolution, takes the listener on a journey, representing different periods in life, from birth to death. The follow-up EP, Variations of Static, keeps the classical foundations of his debut album while incorporating crackling electronics and the dead voice of a machine; like vague memories of tradition lost within the digital age we all live in. Last winter Ólafur performed at unique venues in the UK before he continued playing mostly sold out shows throughout the rest of Europe. Over five hundred people came to see Ólafur at the State-X Newforms Festival in Den Haag alongside Aphex Twin as well as at Iceland Airwaves with Amiina & Jóhann Jóhannsson in Brussels. He set out on an extensive one-month European tour including a headline show in front of 1.000 people at London’s Barbican on June 20th. Fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós invited Ólafur to open some of their European shows in mid August, after which he will embark on a full UK tour in October and return to Iceland in November to record his second full-length album.
Contact: Geoff Wener (Riot Act Management),
Phone +44(0)7802 757999

Benny Crespo's Gang "12223"
There's nothing modest about Benny Crespo's Gang. Consisting of four very different individuals, the band's dynamic mixture of over the top hard rock and eerie synth powered lullabies is truly unique and haunting. They have often been described as one of the most interesting bands in Iceland, and with good reason. Benny Crespo’s Gang’s self-titled 2007 début was gobbled up by local rock-enthusiasts and received top marks from all who reviewed it. Their legendary live shows have consistently made new fans out of anyone who happens to be in the vicinity, and their much-hyped performances at the Iceland Airwaves and Aldrei fór ég suður festivals have earned them fans from all over the world and positive reviews in publications such as NME and Clash Magazine. The band is currently plotting further steps towards world domination and plan to tour the world extensively.
Contact: Magnús Árni Öder –

Sigur Rós "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur"
The good men of Sigur Rós have been pushing musical boundaries and gaining fans ever since forming the group back in 1994. The band quickly became a cult-favourite in Iceland with the release of their atmospheric début, Von, before winning over the whole of the country with follow-up Ágætis Byrjun in 1998. Ágætis Byrjun was an instant critical and commercial success in Iceland, and through word of mouth, glowing reviews and perfectly executed shows the band amassed fans all over the world, setting the tone for what was to come. Following the massive success of Ágætis Byrjun was never going to be an easy task, but Sigur Rós have been coming on strong with every release ever since – (), Takk and June’s Með suð í eyrum við syngjum endalaust... have all strengthened and spread the band’s world-wide reputation beyond a doubt. Sigur Rós are a unique and inventive band in the best sense and remain one ofIceland’s finest ambassadors for music and creativity.
Contact: Manager, John Best –

Reykjavík! "Æji, plís"
Reykjavík! should need no introduction to the discerning music snob or his friend, the brutish cro-mag. Their 2006 Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) produced début, Glacial Landscapes, Religion, Oppression and Alcohol was pretty much salivated over by everyone who came in contact with it, topping every Icelandic critics’ list and scoring them spots at shows and festivals all over the world including appearances at SXSW, MiDEM, Eurosonic, By:larm, Spot and Les Grandes Traversées. They also played a lot of squats, dirty clubs, people’s homes and a submarine shelter. 2008 has seen Reykjavík! tarnishing their already abrasive style. Scrapping a half-finished album, the band decided to go all out and make the sonic boom of white noise that they had yearned for. Enter a collaboration with Bedroom Community artist Ben Frost, who has brought out the darker side of Reykjavík! in a big, bad, brutal way.
Contact: Haukur S. Magnússon –

Mugison "Mugiboogie"
Three years ago, Mugison traded his laptop in for a bass player and a drummer of flesh and blood, cranked the amp and went on a mission. His third album, Mugiboogie is driven by the lust for life, love, and sex - a classic rock 'n' roll album in that sense but yet he manages to surprise and entertain in each song. He spent the good part of three years howling in his garage until the songs felt right, felt real and beyond all, felt good. Mugiboogie became a platinum seller in Iceland and granted him a support slot with Queens of the Stone Age earlier this year. Call him a schizophrenic, call him possessed, a monkey with attention-deficit disorder but make no mistakes - he's on a mission. He promised to give it all he got, to turn his inside out and this is what that sounds like.
Contact: Örn Elías Guðmundsson –

Sign "The Hope"
The Sign story is truly unique. The five piece play direct, unpretentious rock songs, underlaid with driving and emotive riffs and the distinctive powerful voice of Solberg. With full Kerrang! backing behind them Sign have worked their profile in the UK since the self-released album, Thank God for Scilence, in 2006, resulting in them opening the main stage at Download festival this summer. Sign have mastered the skills of exciting live performances through relentless touring schedules. Produced by the band itself, Sign’s second English-language full-length, The Hope, sees them take their ambitions to the next level. Songs such as ‘The Hope’,‘Moveless’ and ‘Immobilized By Fear’ show Sign can not only write a killer hook and riffs which shred like the best, but they are fully cable of writing catchy fist in the air choruses that will have you begging for more. The Hope is an album that has seen the band emerge as one of 2008’s most exciting rock prospects.

Contact: Manager Gis von Ice –

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