“Raindamage” = Music of Valgeir SIGURDŎSSON, Úlfur HANSSON, Hlynur Aðils VILMARSSON – Nordic Affect – Sono Luminus

Some very reflective and ‘icy’ sounds sure to get your attention.

“Raindamage” = Valgeir SIGURDŎSSON: Raindamage; Antigravity; Úlfur HANSSON: ÞỲÐ; Skin Continuum; Hlynur Aðils VILMARSSON: Noa::Ems; [:n:] – Nordic Affect – Sono Luminus SLE-70008 [Distr. by Naxos], 39:06, (2/24/2017) ***1/2:

I literally closed my eyes while listening to this very picturesque and very unusual set of music from Iceland and imagined ice, cold, aurora and maybe even foreboding. Credit the three innovative composers represented here for creating music that is decidedly non-mainstream and yet very captivating and imagery provoking.

To be sure not all listeners will like this and might not even make it past the occasional strident bursts of sound; of dissonance; of intrusions into the ether of solitude. But if you have heard a lot of modern music and especially from one of the most exciting “new” sources of the new and usual – Iceland – then you may be taken in as I was. I think it is the very nature of Iceland the country and culture to seem and feel isolated and unique. This is a country with almost literally no trees, an island long fault line and volcanic rift and a native language that is unlike any other.

Nordic Affect is the very talented four person, all female new music ensemble that performed these works by the three composer-performers herein as part of the 2014 Reykjavik Arts Festival. I can only imagine how intriguing and “immersive” an experience that performance must have been. I would personally love to hear more from each of these composers; I found this collection fascinating stuff.

I do have too small complaints. First, the booklet notes give us a nice amount of information about the composers, themselves, but I wish we got some information on the meaning or implication of the works; especially pronunciations and symbology. I can handle some Finnish but Icelandic is but a distant relative linguistically and titles such as ÞỲÐ by Hansson and Vilmarsson’s [:n:] are like hieroglyphics to most of us.

Lastly, Sono Luminus does its usual amazing job of sound engineering. This disc is a real audio ‘test.’ But it would be nice to have more than thirty-nine minutes of music. Maybe a work or two from Nordic Affect’s “Clockworking” album (also well worth your while!)  I strongly recommend this to anyone who wants to try something truly new and unusual and I encourage even the novice to check it out.

—Daniel Coombs

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