Reykjavík soundtrack

Contrary to what many people think, Icelandic music is not just Björk and Sigur Rós. Since we got here three weeks ago I’ve been sampling as much of the local music as I can, whether recorded (our host has a great collection) or live (so many free performances!). We’ve ended up hearing a good number of bands from other Nordic countries too.* Here are some of my favorites — and I might do another post in future, with more Icelandic music. 

This week, we have been enjoying free concerts from UNM, a decades-old Nordic new music festival. New music is the experimental, sometimes inaccessible edge of what you could call classical music; a lot of it comes from academia, which is reflected in the UNM audience — I felt like I was at a younger, better-dressed academic conference! Two of the UNM artists truly impresssed me.

  • Aili Ikonen is a Finnish vocalist who has performed with many ensembles; jazz quartet Kvalda is one. We heard her in a pared-down version of this otherworldly piece, but most of her YouTube presence is jazz. I cannot get enough of her voice.

  • Bjarke Mogensen is a young Danish accordionist who got a curtain call when we heard him at UNM; wish I could show you the piece he played then, Nick Martin’s “Mother of Sorrows.” He’s amazing. I had no idea accordion could sound so… agile, or so restrained.

I’m headed out to another UNM concert after I post this!

You’ve already seen my sketches from last weekend’s donation-based Melodica Acoustic Festival (they also do Melodica in the UK, Germany, Australia, Denmark, and the US [NY]). At one of their outdoor concerts we heard these two groups:

  • Reykjavík-area band Hide Your Kids. Great energy and I love the lead vocals (though Erik’s not as big a fan). While they don’t seem to have anything on YouTube yet, you can listen to them on Soundcloud.

  • Swedish singer Xenia Kriisin had a fabulous, slightly wacky presence (see here for what she’s like live!).

Finally, I just came from a (free!) concert at the cool shop/record label 12 Tónar: Icelandic band Tilbury rocking out from their recently-released debut album, Exorcism. I tried to draw the music but it came out kind of literal. I think I would have needed thick paint and a big canvas.

Pen sketches while Tilbury plays

It was a great concert and since Tilbury was mentioned on the Icelandair in-flight magazine, I was excited to get to hear them live instead of just hunting them up online. Their videos are pretty cool though!

Happy weekend, and enjoy the music!

*I had to look this up, but Nordic and Scandinavian are not interchangeable terms. Go back to post!

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