Archive for Reykjavík Bootleg Series

Reykjavík Bootleg Series: Arnljótur

If you’re attending Iceland Airwaves this year you may quickly notice a pattern — Arnljótur is in like every band. Sin Fang, Ojba Rasta, Berndsen, … well, there must be more.  But he also performs solo fantasy electronic/organ music, which I’ve had the pleasure of catching twice. Here’s a clip of him at Hemmi og Valdi last winter. He’s also playing the flute.

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Arnljotur-2010-03-19-Hemmi-og-Validi.mp3″]

Something very natural about is command of the instruments at hand, which reminds me of watching videos of Vangelis in his studio playing his orchestra of synths.  It is also very Tangerine Dream in mood.  Also reminds me of some ambient Eno.

Reykjavík Bootleg Series – Berndsen

I’ve been enjoying listening to Berndsen’s debut album, Lover in the Dark.  The album came out last year, a project of Davíð Berndsen.  Nine nuanced nuggets of Giorgio Moroder-style ’80s synthpop, maybe a little Duran Duran, a dash of Aha.  Dynamic arrangements. Sometimes bright, sometimes dreary, sometimes fantastical.  No aggressive pretention.  No over-the-top, self-reflective, sassy irony.  Just some sincere, competent synthpop worship of the type I described.

Berndsen photo by Wenjing

Berndsen photo by Wenjing

The first thing I noticed when seeing them play live is that what may have been expertly sequenced tracks on the album, there was no backing track — everything was played live.  Obviously the result was not as tight as their recorded output but nonetheless much more impressive to see — the intricate synth parts, saxophone solos, guitar and bass work, vocoder, and drums being performed.

I apologize that I messed up recording these tracks so they’re not as clear as they could have been.

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[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Berndsen – Young Boy.mp3″ dl=”0″]

Recorded at Sódóma in downtown Reykjavík on April 23, 2010.

Reykjavík Bootleg Series: The Heavy Experience

This is the very first post in my new “Reykjavík Bootleg Series.” I’ve attending shows steadily since arriving and recently find myself having the equipment to make decent quality field recordings. So, it’s time to introduce the world to samples of the more interesting music being performed on this small, mild-weathered, volcanic rock.

If you’ve ever seen the footage of the tsunami as it hit Thailand, then you have an image of what this band delivers. Slowly and steadily, wave by wave, the girth of the ocean encroaches upon the land until you’re hitting the bulk of civilization–its desperate protests ignored and engulphed by what’s no longer a series of waves but rather an unstoppable flow. The land in this case being a desert; the vacationing Swedes, cactii; the spas, Cadillac graveyards.

Introducing to the world, The Heavy Experience. Third and final song of their first ever live performance, 4 mars. 2010 at Sódóma in downtown Reykjavík.

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Sódómas overcompensated sound system saw rare good use during this set. You can’t feel it on your home speakers, but this slow meditation did indeed get heavy. While not loud to the point where it sounds indescernably bad and kills your ears (which defeats the whole point of music, duh!), it really hit a sweet spot where I could hear everything, even the sax, and could feel as each wave crashed into me. Also goes to show that the key to intensity is dynamics–a technique I wish were more widely applied.