April 7, 2007


Reason to Cry: Emo's got nothin' on a revered Icelandic string section that brings its audience to tears. (Michael Alan Goldberg, 4/04/07, Seattle Weekly)

The transformation of Icelandic quartet Amiina from the backing string section for revered countrymen Sigur Rós--a position they've held since 1999, and which has brought them their greatest fame to date--to an artistic entity in its own right began by happenstance in 2004.

"We got invited to play this festival in Denmark at the last minute, before we were even a band," Hildur Ársælsdóttir recounts in her thick accent. "We had 10 days to come up with a program, so we just put every instrument we could find in our cars and drove out to the countryside and started fooling around, wrote some songs, and then had our first concert. We just got right onstage before we had even decided what kind of music we wanted to make, really."

Since then, Amiina have discovered and refined a magical and monumentally beautiful style that's informed by classical music, traditional Icelandic folk music, and the minimalist electronic experimentalism of Brian Eno and Steve Reich. Mostly, their songs unfurl slowly and gently, with arriving layers of organ, strings, xylophone, ambient drones and noises, the occasional pitter-patter beat, the sparest of guitar arpeggios, and other instrumentation forming a gossamer symphony of sound. At some points, the scope and mood are similar to Sigur Rós' more serene, ruminative moments; elsewhere, Amiina project a sort of innocence and warmth that's akin to early Boards of Canada.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 7, 2007 12:00 AM
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