Tag Archives: for a minor reflection

Icelandic Bands of Iceland Airwaves 2017

With less than two months left before the big festival, Iceland Airwaves have announced the final list of artists performing at the festival. Unlike past years, Iceland Airwaves will be in two cities this year, Reykjavik and Akureyri giving festival goers a chance to see more of the island, and from the looks of it, bringing more Icelandic bands from all over together to play.

187 bands have been announced so far of which 142 are Icelandic.  I make this page as a quick reference and it’s a good thing to bookmark while you’re at the festival. There will be times where your plans may not come to fruition and you can look at the app, find a band you’ve never heard of for plan B, and use the quick reference here to see if you dig it.

With Icelandic bands it can always be hard to categorize their music styles as one of the greatest things about them is their ability to snag and grab their favorite things from all over the musical spectrum and make it work for them. So these lists are just general nods in the direction you may be looking for, for example, the Dance table, they sit right on the edge of electronic and dance pop/rock and beats. But I tried to focus on the prominence of a lead singer and the beats of the bulk of their songs in deciding which side to place them.

I’ve also made a table of just Möller Records and Thule Records artists as they have quite the strong presence this year. Both of these record labels have continually brought amazing electronic acts out of the Icelandic woodwork for years and I’m really stoked to visit their stage and get my fill of their collective music.

Categorizing some bands can be extremely difficult as they run borders are freely through genres, so if you feel a band needs to be moved into a different category let me know and I’ll change it.

Electronic / DJ / Atmospheric / experimental
Chevron DJ Snorri Ástráðs Frank Murder Good Moon Deer
Kosmodod Ljósvaki Púlsvídd Röskva
Ruxpin Tonik ensemble TRPTYCH Yagya
Veteran Electronic Record Labels: Möller & Thule Records
Án (M) Andartak (M) Bistro Boy (M) Cold (T)
Futuregrapher (M) Gunnar Jónsson Collider (M) NonniMal (T) Octal Industries (T)
Ohm (T) Subliminal (M) Thor (T) Vector (T)
Dance / electronic / pop / rock
Blissfull GusGus Mikael Lind Milkywhale
PASHN Sólveig Matthildur Sykur Sylvia
Rock / Pop / Singer/Songwriter / Indie / Dance
200.000 Naglbítar AFK Ásgeir AUÐUR
aYia Benny Crespo’s Gang Between Mountains Biggi Hilmars
Daði Freyr Dísa Einarlndra Emiliana Torrini & the Colorist
Fai Baba Fox Train Safari Fufanu Gangly
Godchilla Godchilla Grúska Babúska Guðrún Ýr
Hildur Hugar JANA JFDR
Jón Jónsson KALLI Kiriyama Family Lára Rúnars
Maus Megas Mighty Bear Nilüfer Yanya
Omotrack One week wonder Ösp Oyama
Par-Ðar Pascal Pinon Paunkholm Pranke
Ragga Grönda RuGl Rythmatik SiGRÚN
Skaði Þórðardóttir Skrattar Snorri Helgason Soffía Björg
Sóley Special K Sycamore Tree Tilbury
TSS Tusks Una Stef Valdimar
Védís Warmland
Punk / Metal / Hardcore / Garage Rock / Prog Rock
Dr. Gunni For a Minor Reflection Fræbbblarnir Gróa
HAM Hatari Hórmónar Kælan Mikla
Kontinuum Korter í flog Mammút Phlegm
Pink Street Boys ROHT Skelkur í bringu Tappi Tíkarrass
Tófa Une Misère We Made God
Hip-Hop / Trap / R&B / Rap
Alexander Jarl Alvia Islandia Aron Can Birnir
Cell 7 Chase Cryptochrome Cyber
Dillalude Elli Grill Emmsjé Gauti Fever Dream
Geisha Cartel GKR Glowie Holy Hrafn
Ider Joey Christ JóiPé og Króli KÁ-AKÁ
Lord Pusswhip Rari boys Reykjavíkurdætur Shades of Reykjavik
Sturla Atlas Tiny Valby Bræður
Composers / atmospheric
Bára Gísladóttir GlerAkur Gyða Valtýsdóttir Halldór Eldjárn
Jónas Sen
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You really should be at ATP in Iceland…

ATPIceland

Why go all the way to a continent straddling island for a music fest?  Perhaps because it’s at the old NATO base Ásbrú, perhaps because Iceland is really beautiful in the summer, and/or perhaps the fact that Portishead, Slowdive, Shellac, Interpol and Fuck Buttons, and all the other goody bands listed in the graphic above will be there.

This is the second ATP Iceland and combine it’s newness with their already selective process for music and you get a festival made just for music lovers.  Neil Young and Ólafur Arnalds will be doing ATP Takeover events near the city on days leading up to the festival, and the long weekend of the festival looks to be chocked full of music and mayhem.

There are movies, DJ sets, as well as the concerts, so if you get bored that’s your own fault.  The Icelandic music blog Rok Musik has a great post on the festival, and the folks over at Grapevine did a little Q&A with some of the artists coming up.  Get yer tix and we’ll see you there.

I have to put in a special plug, as not only is Pharmakon from Sacred Bones Records playing, but the guru of Sacred Bones himself, Caleb is DJ’ing a set in the DJ tent.  They are not Icelanders, but one of my favorite labels out of NY.

ATPICELANDgroup

**All pics pilfered via google image search

As this is an Icelandic music blog, or at least tries to be, I’ll forego my crushes and gushes for some of the non-Icelandic acts (Shell-Fukkin-Ac) and focus my admirations and infatuations on the Icelanders involved.

I put together a playlist on Soundcloud of the Icelandic bands playing, and I put videos down below for bands not really represented on Soundcloud.

HAM:

Singapore Sling:

It’s a mix of metal and electronics, all somewhat enjoyably on the heavy side.  Epic metal veterans HAM will be there, as well as Icelandic music 101 staples, For a Minor Reflection, MAMMÚT, Singapore Sling. and self described “dynamite rockers” Náttfari are performing.

Sóley is back from the time she took off for her family, and it wouldn’t be an Icelandic gig without Sin Fang doing something for the crowd.  The sweethearts of Pascal Pinon and Samaris are also doing a set, and one of the founders of the Bedroom community, Ben Frost, will be performing.  Captain Fufanu has nixed the Captain, so Fufanu will be entertaining the masses, and adding another artist to the list of musicians I haven’t seen previously, Kría Brekkan (formerly, like 8 years and a musical lifetime ago formerly, of múm) will also be there.

So yes, you should be in Iceland mid July for this awesome festival, I will be.  Learn more about it here.

This is the Playlist for all the bands, foreign and native alike:

spotify to follow soon.

 

 

For a minor Reflection

I tried to find someone to credit for the damned pic, but alas no luck.

I tried to find someone to credit for the damned pic, but alas no luck.

In the beginning there was Pink Floyd, in 2006 there was a soon to be post rock Icelandic band covering Pink Floyd, and by 2007 that band, For a Minor Reflection, was playing and recording their own material, originally comprised of Kjartan Hólm, Guðfinnur Sveinsson, Elvar Jón Guðmundsson and Jóhannes Ólafsson who was later replaced by Andri Freyr Þorgeirsson. With over 6 years, multiple tours on their own or with the likes of Sigur Ros, FAMR have earned their place as Icelandic post rock veterans.

Their first album, Reistu þig við, sólin er komin á loft…, is self produced.  reminiscent of Explosions in the sky or Godspeed You Black Emperor, there is a rawness to the music with two guitars that easily transition from harmonies to performing dueling dances around the drums and bass.  “Ókyrrð” is the perfect example of the dance the guitars do on this album.  Sometimes almost dueling like a high noon shootout while at other times in paralleled harmony, the song builds up, tears down and slowly brings itself to a boiling endpoint.  And though the song is over 12 minutes long, once it begins you really don’t want it to end.  It still remains my favorite track of theirs to date.

in 2009 the band lost their drummer to the dreaded land of studies, and Andri Freyr Þorgeirsson Joined them.  Their second album, Höldum í átt að óreiðu. was released shortly after in 2010.

Kastljós, the first song on the album introduces us to a newer sound of FAMR.  The rawness replaced with fuller sounding guitars and a more equal mix of keys and drums.   Where Reistu þig við, sólin er komin á loft’s complexity was found in the tension between the instruments, Höldum í átt að óreiðu’s creates it’s own complexity by intertwining layers that cleverly weave a more smooth journey.  The second song, “Fjara”, gives us a clear introduction to the new players in the mix, keyboard and strings.

I think what sets this album apart from it’s kin in the post rock genre, is the hidden up-beatedness of it all.  There is a sly happiness within the songs that creeps up on you in the most surprising moments.  I suppose I amn’t a strong enough wordsmith, but there are times when I listen to this album that I realize mid song that I’ve cracked a smile and am fighting back the warm and fuzzys.  It almost becomes a soundtrack to the triumphant moments of your life, like when you’ve managed to get every last bit out of your yogurt cup.  Their second album is an album that stays in my recently played queue quite often.  “Fjara” and “Andlega veðurtepptir” happen to be my favorite two songs.

Their third album, the For a Minor Reflection E.P.  is a pleasant compromise of their two previous releases.  There are exciting and sharp instrumental moments, with plenty of smooth rolling hills.  The background ambiance-like samples they use add to the music and neatly tie up the two styles.  Oh, and there are horns, Höldum also had horns, but their shiny brass chests are puffed out and beaming so much more on the E.P.

“Recite” is one of my favorite tracks on the E.P.  Overall the song gradually builds up to a rock out ending, but in that build up are many tiny jagged moments of sharpness with micro breaks between guitars, keys and horns creating localized ups and downs within a wave like movement that ends in a terrific crash of rocking out.

In December of 2013, the band released a DVD/CD of their live material from Iceland Airwaves.  Their live shows are always packed, high energy events.  I’ve seen them in the massive halls of Harpa, as well as the tiny hostel lobby of the Loft hostel.  here’s a great clip from their website of the DVD/CD release:

You can see them live at ATP Iceland this July, or I’m sure they will be around during Iceland Airwaves.  For more info or to purchase their music check out their website or follow them on Facebook.  They are another band that does a fantastic job and keeping a thorough Soundcloud page.

Kjartan was nice enough to answer my 4 ridiculous questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at?  Last year it was definitely Hlemmur Square. A new and fun venue to play at.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get?  A rainbow!

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Lyrika, 1860 and Steindór Andersen + Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song?  A raccoon playing Total Eclipse of the Heart. (Of course, we knew he’d say that)

Iceland Airwaves recap part 3- the rest

So now that I’ve covered the new bands I was excited to see, and the bands I always look forward to seeing,  I can discuss the rest of the festival. This year there was a lot of Pylsa eating, beer and vodka consumption, and Northern lights!  until this last trip, I have never seen the Northern lights, so this definitely was a treat, and one I actually just enjoyed, without snapping a pic.

Really, there were only two non-Icelandic must sees for me, Anna Von Hausswolff and Zola Jesus.  I went out of my way to make sure I was going to see both, and with the packed crowd I lucked out that Samaris was right before the Anna Von Hausswolff show at Gamla Bíó.  micsingAnna Von Hausswollf, put on an incredibly haunting performance.   she and the band with their intense harmonization and emotional drumming was just as amazing as I expected.  The venue was so packed I was surprised NOT to see people hanging from the rafters, but I may have missed them from not being able to look up for fear of stepping on someone below.  It certainly was packed, and the onslaught of photographers in the beginning did not help with the crowded situation.

And this brings up one of the few issues I had with Airwaves this year, the aggressive photographers.  Not all were this aggressive, but there were a few who went completely overboard to get a pretty picture.  Boom goes the camera flashI applaud the quick and stern email Airwaves sent out after this reminding photographers that the festival is for all people attending, not just the press, and that it was absolutely not OK to use a flash directly into the face of performers, but until this email, it was common to see this happening to artists and the crowd:

This picture was the beginning of the Show, as you can see, even the artist is flinching away from the insanely close use of a flash, and the amount of people using it.  And unfortunately, if you were in the first couple of rows, a line of photog-ass was your view.   The lighting made for a tough show to shoot, But as this picture shows, these guys were insane with trying and they continued through almost two complete songs. Stopping only after a certain fan of Anna’s, out of awe of her music I’m sure, climbed on stage and proclaimed her love for the music by laying down right next to Anna’s keys and flashing metal signs.

Kimono at Bar 11

Kimono at Bar 11

AlisonK

Alison from Kimono at Gamli Gaukurinn

Kimono, oh dear sweet Kimono.  I admit, I saw them three times in total.  First show was Bar 11 before Metz, second at Gamli Gaukurinn, and I saw half of their final set at Lucky Records the next day.  Kimono are an old staple in Iceland, one could argue they’ve influenced a lot of music in their time, so it was great to see them live again.

Their gigs certified  they still have it.  Heavy instrumentation, with just ever-so-slightly aggressive vocals trudging through the the set.   The band was kind enough to play my favorite song, The Wire (I’m sure it was all for me) at all three gigs,  and someone paid tribute to Alison’s paying tribute at Anna Von Haussenwolffs performance at Gamli Gaukurinn by laying down center stage and flashing metal signs while soaking in Kimono’s heavy beats.

They also introduced a few new tracks that they have been working on, including a dance number, well as dance number as Kimono can get,  Think a modern Les Savy Fav.  It excites me that they are working on new stuff.  These guys are another band that personifies the Icelandic music culture.  They’ve been playing for well over a decade, and as dedicated and serious as they are about their task, they still take the time to have fun on stage, and they also display that natural ability to include the audience in that fun, cracking jokes, heckling back and just overall having a good time playing music they love.  And they have no fear about working on new stuff that may differ from the old.  It’s an epic work ethic they have, and I’m all the more excited about it.

zolaAnd of course, Zola Jesus.  She came to Iceland with a brand new band.  If she hadn’t told the audience they were new, I don’t think we would have noticed as they played a wonderful set at Gamla Bíó.  Zola was full of her typical energy and after jumping off stage barefoot, she spent a good time serenading audience members, jumping on chairs, and whipping her mic chord around barriers like a seasoned cowboy lassoing a bull.  As I’m a bit biased when it comes to Zola concerts, it was good to read that not just I was impressed with her set.  I’m glad Iceland got to see her.

Really, there is so much more one could write about, and there are so many more pics that I could share.  Iceland Airwaves yet again delivered a fantastic festival and Iceland proved to be the ever amazingly Martha Stewart of sovereign hosts.

If you want to know about how a band you dug did, the Grapevine blogged about EVERY on-venue show this year on their Airwaves dedicated blog space.  Their presence and that blog were an amazing thing this year and a great addition to the festival experience, maybe I’m just partial because they flattered me by publishing my blog/article on supporting the local Icelandic musicians, but no, it’s an extremely well put together blog about the festival over all, and you have to give Grapevine major props for the hard work they put into it.  You can see all my photos from Iceland Airwaves here, or by clicking on one of the pictures above.

It’s weird to end a blog post without my four weird questions, so I leave you with one of them, answered while some mocking was being done about the questions I ask, by Kjartan from For a Minor Reflection:

What animal would you be, and what song would you sing? A raccoon, because raccoons are the coolest animal.. And Total eclipse of the heart, because that would be the coolest song for a raccoon to sing…..