Tag Archive for 'Iceland'

Life In Mixtape Form #68

Life In Mixtape Form #68 from almostaghost on 8tracks Radio.

A few days late, here’s the last LIMF mix. It’s mostly Icelandic music, because for the last 7 of these 8 days, I was exploring Iceland. 🙂

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost’s Best Albums Of 2011 – #20. Björk – Biophilia

Bjork - Biophilia

heaven's bodies whirl around me and make me wonder

“Biophilia” means “the love of life” – not life in an existential sense, but life as in living systems and vitality. This is the concept of Björk’s Biophilia, a set of songs that take inspiration from nature and the universe. And like nature and the universe, the album varies wildly, from moments of beauty to creepiness to perplexing to exciting.

As to be expected from an artist like Björk, she takes this concept all the way. Her biophiliac ideas inform the music. For instance, the song “Moon” does not mention moons in its words, but the music is based on musical cycles (of harps), analogized to lunar cycles. “Thunderbolt” uses an electronic Tesla coil to somehow get a bassline, which creates an arpeggio — a musical form of intervals, in line with the space between thunder and lightning. I am no musician though, and a lot of this musicianship is over my head, but figured it was worth a mention. (You can read about the songs in more detail here if you’d like.)

As is normal for her, Björk writes about personal moments within big… no, HUGE, themes. (What’s bigger than the universe?) “Moon” looks at rejuvenation, which is probably the main thread through most of the songs: “Best way to start anew is to fail miserably / Fail at loving / Fail at giving / Fail at creating a flow / Then realign the whole / And kick into the starthole.” Moons start over every month, nature is always re-growing, and so can people: “the healthiest pastime is being in life-threatening circumstances and once again be reborn.” “Crystalline” and “Thunderbolt” also look at similar moments in life – “the sparkle you become when you conquer anxiety” and “may I / can I / or have I too often / craved miracles.” On “Cosmogony,” Björk sings of four different creationist stories (various myths and the Big Bang Theory). “Virus” looks at love through the lens of a virus and a cell (“perfect adversaries”).

As new age-y or gimmick-y as this may all sound, I assure you, it could not be less so. The end result is a sharp, mysterious album, mixing grand vocals with homemade electronics (Björk did much of it on an iPad apparently). Björk’s endlessly fascinating curiosity and musical exploration make Biophilia a vital piece of music.

Bjork “Moon”

Bjork “Hollow”

also you can listen to this on my Spotify playlist here

- almostaghost

Btrxz’s Haiku Reviews of 2010 Or Things We Over Look (in no particular order 6/18)

Artist: Seabear

Title: We Built Fire

Label: Morr Music

Country: Iceland, Reykjavik

Genre: Experimental, Folk, Indie

Date: 6-16-201

Seabear- We Built A Fire

Cool winds bear soft fruit

Bears hear a sea’s tender storm

Does it take us far


- Btrxz

AlmostAGhost’s Best Albums Of 2010 – #7. Jónsi – Go


climb endless trees

#7. Jónsi – Go

Jónsi, of course, is the lead singer of Sigur Rós, and the mix of natural instruments with his other-worldly voice remains the key for the music on his new album, Go. Jónsi’s other side project, Riceboy Sleeps, basically makes ambient music. Go, however, is the polar opposite of ambient, where everything just sparkles and breathes. (Sigur Rós, I guess, mixes both aspects.)

Go begins with the glorious and triumphant “Go Do,” though it sometimes recalls a Nike commercial (could just be the title). “Animal Arithmetic” has a relentless pulse, from the opening junkyard percussion, to the upbeat vocals, to the swirling keyboards. Not a moment is wasted, not a moment drags. Glacial Sigur Rós movements are nowhere to be found here (well, maybe a tiny bit, the final track “Hengilás” is familiar). Despite the parts being the same (strings, Iceland, drama, that voice), and being just as uplifting, Jónsi is taking a different path from Sigur Rós. It remains stunning. Nobody makes music like this.

One difference is that, instead of Icelandic (or Hopelandic), Jónsi actually sings (most of) the lyrics in English. I was stunned to discover this. I didn’t realize it until months after I started listening to it! His voice does that to you, his unique phrasing and sound. And the lyrics are fascinating too. From the gorgeous “Sinking Friendships,” he writes “we’re swimming in the blue / nigh misfortune / unlively like glue / my eyes are soaked the way through / our sinking friendships / we drown them all.”

There is a lot of lines about growth and movement, which matches the music, and seems to be Jónsi’s theme (hence the album title). For instance, on “Around Us,” “I see a forest / a treasure chest full of labyrinth / I see a door, holes in the floor / We’ll break seeds, we’ll grow!” “Boy Lillikoi” seems to be about a boy, courageous and adventurous: “I want to be a lilikoi / Boy lillikoi / you grind your claws / you howl, you growl unafraid / you run, you’re free / you climb endless trees.” Jónsi’s song could not be more life-affirming, but never in a new agey sort of way.

Jónsi sings on “Animal Arithmetic,” “every time, everyone, everything’s full of life / every day, everywhere, people are so alive” and that’s a perfect description. Every moment of Go is full of life, no album from 2010 is more alive.

Jónsi “Animal Arithmetic”

Jónsi “Sinking Friendships”

- almostaghost