Wednesday, November 02, 2011

airwaves: highlights

so, here are some of my favourite acts from iceland airwaves. in the end, i opted to use video-accompaniment with this blog entry, mainly with visuals of some of the country's amazing landscape. one person not featured in this summary, who i would have included if i could find a video, is guðrið hansdóttir from the faroe islands (so instead, why not check out some great shots of her by dennis stempher, a fellow music photographer who had also made the journey to iceland from the netherlands, from the first day of the festival here).

sin fang
since getting back from reykjavik, i'd say sin fang's album summer echoes has been the one i've played most. i first saw sindri már sigfússon perform in leeds a few years back with his other band seabear and to be honest i wasn't quite grabbed by the show - not sure why, maybe it was my mood? or the fact that sindri *really* didn't look like he was having a good time. i saw him perform a couple of times at airwaves and i now think i get it. that's just the way it is. i really enjoyed his shows this time, particularly the one at hressa when i was down the front snapping. am already looking forward to when sin fang heads to amsterdam for his next gig, which this time is not allowed to clash with any other gig that night (last time he played, beirut was also in town that night)!



snorri helgason
next up, snorri helgason whom i discovered  unexpectedly in one of the most quirky off-venue venues (a men's clothes shop). i'd actually turned up to see borko who i thought would be playing on the store's tiny little stage surrounded by paraphenalia such as a reindeer (?) head, a shoe-shining machine, an old record player (which was used to play the between-sets background music, a nice touch that was noticed by this vinyl loving gal!) and a picture of john f. kennedy (which made me wonder, do icelanders have a similar obsession leftover from the '60s that the irish do - in many family homes in the west of ireland, a photo of jfk still sits on the mantlepiece; this link is not the only thing that both countries have in common, as the icelandic scenery is not so unlike that of county mayo, albeit with added extras such as larva and volcanoes). anyway, so snorri's album winter sun has also been played a lot recently on my stereo (aka computer) and i particularly love this video (another one from the studio of máni m. sigfússon).



Snorri Helgason - River from Snorri Helgason on Vimeo.

patrick watson
ok, so this one is cheating a bit as really i only wanted to get the video in this round-up. sadly i didn't get to see patrick playing any (rumoured or real?) sets at airwaves but i did see him playing with esmerine (a band which is made up of members of both godspeed you! black emperor and thee silver mt. zion) at harpa on the saturday night and i was wowed by (i) the most amazing instrument set-up (cello, marimba, a zylopone or two and a harp) and (ii) the song the canadian musicians played for their friend, the late lhasa de sela



Patrick Watson - Fireweed from Patrick Watson on Youtube.

olafur arnalds
and last, but not least, olafur arnalds. he was the reason for my being at airwaves this year at all, after i saw him play an inspirational and intimate show at a festival in nijmegen a few months back (to 50 people in a 500-year-old house, see blog post here and one or two more photos here). at airwaves, i was lucky enough to catch his off-off-venue solo piano show at the city hall and could hear just some snippets of the start of his nordic house show, but it was not till his saturday night performance at harpa that i got to witness the full effect of his piano, orchestral and electronic arrangements and all i can say is, wow! (the show did seem crazily short, but at least it did leave me wanting more!) i can't wait till he next tours this way (maybe be as part of the holland festival? now that would be rather something). oh, and i couldn't find a video of olafur's music with any scenic shots, but this one does have a view out of the window of his reykjavik apartment. i think that counts. :)


Olafur Arnalds - Near Light (one of the Living Room Songs) 

from Ólafur Arnalds on Youtube.

for a really good summary of a number of the bands mentioned on this post, go see chromewaves' thoughts on airwaves
here. i really love the way he summarises olafur's show at harpa in particular ('...in every gentle piano note, every wavering bowed string, every stuttering electronic beat – even in the projected animated bird mobiles and flickering strobe lights'...).

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