Tuesday, 22 April 2014

SAMARIS 'Silkidrangar'

Album review

Silkidrangar, or ‘Silk Cliffs’ is certainly not your average album sobriquet. Yet, for those who know and love Icelandic three piece Samaris, the title of their forthcoming LP could not have been chosen better; it encapsulates exactly the kind of music this band is about: earthy, atmospheric and beautifully percussive. Following the release of their eponymous debut album last year, Silkidrangar is the long awaited new album from the techno trio, available for a listen via One Little Indian this Spring.

The band’s first single release entitled ‘Ég vildi fegin verða’ sets the tone for the album; it is a whirlwind mix of ethereal vocals and silky melodies, draped over hypnotic synth beats and sharper rhythms. Jófríður Ákadóttir’s haunting vocals open the track before merging with Samaris’ characteristic electronica, masterminded by band member Þórður Kári Steinþórsson, aka 'Doddi'. Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir is the third member of the trio, whose contributions present in the form of the clarinet. Most notably on tracks such as ‘Tíbrá’ and ‘Lífsins ólgusjór’, Magnúsdóttir’s efforts combine flawlessly with Ákadóttir’s whispering vocals. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is so compelling about Samaris’ work; it is not catchy, exactly, but there is something so entrancing about this band’s artistry.

The breathy yet graceful vocals from Ákadóttir are reminiscent of eclectic singer Björk, who not only shares Ákadóttir’s Icelandic roots, but more significantly the ethereal quality in her voice. The star is clearly a strong influence for the band, which has combined echoes of Björk’s style with electro beats in their progressive LP. In an interview with Aesthetica Magazine, Ákadóttir confirmed “We all have a different musical background”, and it is precisely this which makes the band unique. The rare amalgamation of bold electronica with harmonious clarinet and angelic lyrics pulled from 19th Century Icelandic poems is a daring move, and one certainly difficult to pull off. Yet for Samaris, it is one that has textured their music with spellbinding force.

Silkidrangar has been described by The Line of Best Fit as encompassing “A wonderfully paranormal aesthetic”; with its ghostly percussions and otherworldly sounds, the album does feel rather delightfully alien. Notably, the band has also sidestepped the adoption of the English language into their melodies - a move so common for European artists - and this clearly works very much in their favour; not only does the retention of Icelandic add to the ethereal atmosphere of the album, but also makes each track all the more hypnotic for the English ear.

As recently as 2011 marked the birth of Samaris, though the trio already hold an abundance of tangible praise under their belt. Within months of formation, Samaris won both the Icelandic Músíktilraunir competition (a battle-of-the-bands-esque affair held annually in Reykjavik) and the prestigious Kraumur Award in 2011. The group have also spread their talents into international territory, earning spots at European festivals including Sonar, Berlin Music Week and Electric Picnic. As if things for Samaris couldn’t get more exciting, the band will be touring Europe this summer at venues including Brighton’s The Great Escape, London’s Roundhouse, and the Olympia Theatre in Ireland.

If you are looking for a fresh and exciting addition to your iTunes, look no further. 

- Claudia Turnbull

Silkidrangar is out on May 5th.

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