A few evenings ago, Mark and I went to see a pre-Iceland Airwaves show at the devastatingly hip downtown bar and music venue Fáktory. We went to see the headliner, Sóley, but by the time she came on, the upstairs room with the stage was packed to the gills with a very chatty, very energetic crowd intent on pushing back and forth from the bar in the back. So we–finding ourselves suddenly, prematurely elderly in comparison to the vigorously youthful (and generally very tall) mass around us–left after two songs. Even so, I’d say the evening was a success, in that it introduced us to the opening band, Samaris. Samaris is comprised of three students–Jófríður Ákadóttir on vocals, Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir playing clarinet, and Þórður Kári Steinþórsson, the “computer musician” (that per their Facebook page), who creates the underlying spacey soundscape on his MacBook.
The music is somewhere between Folksy Trip-Hop and New Age Electronica–the vocals, undulating and moody, are sometimes reminiscent of Portishead, and sometimes sound a little bit like a low-register, breathier Björk (I hesitate to make that comparison, but please believe that I know plenty of Icelandic musicians, so I’m not just comparing her to Björk because I don’t have any other female singers at hand). The clarinet actually rounds out the overall sound quite nicely–adding a warmness to the more abstract “computer music” and beats.
Here’s the official music video for the song, “Góða Tungl” (Good Moon), which appears to be their big single (lots of videos of them performing it on Icelandic TV and at European music festivals on YouTube) for your viewing/listening enjoyment:
And since I found myself more and more won over by Samaris after a few songs in a row, here are a couple more for you:
The much more up-tempo “Viltu Vitrast”:
And lastly, a 2011 live performance of the moody “Stofnar Falla,” which I don’t think would be out of place soundtracking a medieval fantasy film set in a misted, mysterious wood (I mean that in a good way):