Ásgeir, Into The Silence – album review
When I heard about this mind-blowing new talent from Iceland I was the biggest of naysayers. Being a massive Sigur Ros fan and a moderate Bjork worshiper it irritated me greatly that Ásgeir’s (pronounced Ash – gear) claim to fame was selling more albums than the aforementioned artists put together on their debuts.
Since when were album sales a qualifier for talent or musicianship?
Add to this the fact that his debut album was released in 2012 in Icelandic and then translated into English just recently to increase mass appeal for the ensuing “rest-of-the-world” release (April 4), and I was convinced that this was Eurovision’s filthy attempt at world domination.
Then I pressed play. My first thoughts were “Bon Iver and Vance Joy made a folktronica baby!”
The soaring vocals and epic spaciousness on some tracks contrast beautifully with the wholesome folk pin-up boy style on others. The intricate post-dub beat underlay keeps the tracks rooted in the present and highlight that the remixibility of this album is enormous.
The album’s opening number ‘Higher’ speaks of “taking flight” and the gentle, uplifting musical progressions actually make you feel like you’re flying.
A few bars into the title track ‘Into the Silence’ it’s clear that this will become a folk anthem. I finally understand the mass appeal. Ásgeir’s unique voice gives him indie-cred, but the catchy melodies and harmonies that melt the heart of anyone within ear-shot make this music almost impossible to dislike.
Ásgeir grew up around music, singing the traditional Icelandic folk songs and other music with his family for as long as he can remember. The influence of this music that has been played over centuries taps into something fundamental within us all and you can feel that with this album.
Did the English lyrics impede on my listening pleasure? Nope, not at all. Some of them I even preferred to the Icelandic version and that is thanks to American musician John Grant being responsible for the translation. Grant’s incredible sensitivity and poetic lyricism alleviated any potential clunkiness and his understanding and admiration for Icelandic music allowed for authenticity.
Ásgeir Trausti already seems to be the name on everyone’s lips, but we’ll be hearing plenty more from this 21-year-old Icelandic musician during 2014. A couple of my favourite Youtube comments on Heimförin (the Icelandic version of ‘Going Home’) were “If Jeff Buckley was Icelandic I’m pretty sure he’d sound something like this” and “You are my god and your songs are my bible for my <3” and with an album that left my solar plexus smiling the way this one did, who am I to disagree?
Ásgeir, Into The Silence review by Harriet Cheney.