Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Valgeir Sigurðosson

Draumalandid (Bedroom Communities, 03.2010)

For: Nico Muhly, Max Richter, Daniel Bjnarasson

Byline: The eminent producer/composer's soundtrack to the Icelandic documentary Draumalandid is a gorgeous study of a composer juggling tension and beauty, and a peek into what a true Sigurðosson solo album might sound like. Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com, Used by permission by In Your Speakers, LLC.

....When engaged as the vision of Sigurðosson, Draumalandid bridges the gap between the electronic heavy Björk-era compositions with the orchestral maneuvers of his Bedroom Community compatriots of the last few years. Every member contributes graciously on the album ranging from Nico Muhly composing for the large orchestra, Sam Amidon contributing vocals on the first track and acoustic guitar throughout, and Ben Frost laying down some menacing cello dissonance on the sweeping closing tracks “Nowhere Land” and “Helter Smelter”. Sigurðosson builds from the ground up, playing simple, rhythmic melodies on strings or piano that lay the compositional groundwork in which Valgeir and friends fill with flourishes of electronics, woodwinds, various percussion instruments, and tonal varieties that range from sad to beautiful, elegiac to terrifying.

“Dreamland” and its fraternal “Draumalandid” (“Draumalandid” translates to “dreamland” in English, but you already guessed that) share a repeating motif built around weaving violin lines that are evocative of the muted grey-green vanishing point where Iceland becomes one with the winter cloudscape. “Beyond The Moss” allows the tension that runs concurrent with the prettier passages to break completely free, creating a world full of creaks and moans, light brushing drum strokes and interpolative flares of flurried cello strings. The beauty and tension that personify the album and its environs are often fought out in the small segues that break up the album. On the side of beauty we have “I Offer Prosperity and Eternal Life” with its heaven-curved ascending chord progression and barely-there piano line; and on team terror we have “Economic Hitman” whose upper register strings hold the anxiety of a Hitchcock thriller.

If an economy falls and no one wants to hear about it, does it still make a sound? Valgeir Sigurðosson juggles the tensions of runaway economic and environmental blight that mark Iceland with the country’s inherent splendor. On an album with vocals being conscientious objectors, Sigurðosson speaks for both. Although a movie soundtrack, the music on of Draumalandid both stands alone and speaks to the collaborative nature that has marked every Bedroom Community release.

(please read full review here)

Ryan H.

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