When I went down to my local betting shop to put a bet on Sweden winning the earthings! World Cup of Music, I couldn’t help but notice that in the actual World Cup the traditional big names of world football are now being matched by the likes of Uruguay and Croatia. It’s certainly developing into an interesting tournament. In part two of the Last 16 stage of our World Cup of Music we get to take a look at a few singer songwriters from countries such as diverse Costa Rica, Iceland and Japan.
We’ve (almost) reached the end of this seven-week series on Nordic pop, and this time we land in Iceland. It’s interesting, this: the country’s physically isolated from most of the world, even its Nordic neighbors (although you can argue Greenland is Denmark, and they’re closer there). That’s meant the country’s had a chance to evolve its culture on its own terms. Just think of Björk, who we wrote about a few weeks back. But also, her musical journey’s involved a lot of genres: in recent decades the country’s also seen its fair share of outside influences, and yet its music is, in a way, distinctly Icelandic.
“Lit” by Kiasmos | A recommend from Tootsie, whose love of all things Icelandic is making me think of stuff for next year. Anyway. Kiasmos. You probably know one half of this group: Ólafur Arnalds, guy whose songs you’ve probably heard on TV or, on, well, anywhere. He’s collaborated with Janus Rasmussen from electro group Bloodgroup; they’ve actually been together for years but they only released their debut album towards the end of October. So, yes, you know half the reason why Tootsie loves this. The other half: it’s a surprisingly brooding, and also surprisingly accessible, dance number. I mean, music from Iceland tends to be either sweeping or harsh, and Kiasmos is technically techno, but this somehow manages to sit in the middle. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)
“Old Skin” by Ólafur Arnalds featuring Arnór Dan | I was surprised to see Ólafur Arnalds’ latest album For Now I Am Winter at Fully Booked (but then again, I shouldn’t be surprised) so I mentioned him to Immie, my Cookista friend who loves the Icelandic multi-instrumentalist (and sometime death metal band drummer). I first encountered his songs while covering So You Think You Can Dance, his stuff backing the more heart-wrenching contemporary routines. Then she comes in and expresses her love for him, leading me to this track and a handful of others. Most of his stuff is instrumental, but occasionally he collaborates with vocalists, like Arnór Dan on this one, as well as “No. Other” (which is Immie’s favorite off the new album) and “So Close”, which should be familiar if you’re watching the Tenth solve crimes on Broadchurch. (I haven’t seen it myself. Is it really that good?) [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)