Friday October 24, 2014 9:00 pm
Presented by KRCL 90.9 FM
Hollywood screenwriters couldn't have scripted the musical ascent of Icelandic phenom Ásgeir any better. Dýrð í dauðaþögn, an album the 21-year-old recorded just for fun, became an overnight sensation in his home country. Buoyed by haunting, shimmering folktronica textures—and driven by lyrics penned by his dad, a retired school principal—the record became the best-selling debut record ever in Iceland, beating out even superstars such as Björk and Sigur Rós.
Doors 8 pm | Show 9 pm
"I thought the album was just going to sell 300 copies to people from my hometown, and my family and friends," Ásgeir says. "I had no expectations whatsoever about anything. But my whole life was turned around in just a few weeks."
Still, the fairy tale didn't end there. The ubiquity of Dýrð í dauðaþögn caught the attention of musician John Grant, and the one-time Midlake collaborator immediately recognized Ásgeir's musical talent. "He has a knack for melody and gorgeous harmonies, coupled with an amazing sense of rhythm and virtuosity on acoustic guitar," Grant says. However, he also saw plenty of beauty in the album's lyrics—a poetic collection touching on things such as nature, fantastical creatures, weather and old short stories—and ended up translating them into English for the international version of the album, titled In The Silence.
Produced by Gudmundur Kristinn Jonsson, In The Silence also loses nothing in translation emotionally. The hope-filled album bursts with warm acoustic guitars, jubilant horns and majestic piano, recalling Bon Iver, Mew, Kings Of Convenience and James Blake. Ásgeir's angelic falsetto and soul-rich voice lends optimism and wise-beyond-his-years insights to the electric guitar-laden surge "Torrent" and twinkling title track. Meanwhile, pulsating electronic beats drive the more subdued "Going Home" and the light discopop touches of "King and Cross."
Since its release, In The Silence is resonating with fans on a deep emotional level that's quite unique. "I've heard extraordinary stories," Ásgeir says. "People have come up to me and said that this album has gotten them through something really difficult in life. That's amazing to hear." Humble and unassuming, Ásgeir is still trying to get used to affecting people in such a deep way with his art—as well as adjusting to his newfound fame and musical stardom.
"I didn't really know if I was ready for this change at the time," he says. "I really had to think about whether I wanted to release an album worldwide, because I knew that I would have to be touring a lot if I was going to do it. But in the end, I thought, 'If I don't do it now, I'll probably never, ever get a chance like this again.'"
Bay Area native, Ryan Karazija, has found inspiration in Reykjavik, Iceland. It's this inspiration that epitomizes the sound of Low Roar, which Pigeons & Planes describes as "wonderfully evocative music" and Acid Stag hails as the "Icelandic version of Grizzly Bear".
After moving to the small Nordic community in 2010, Karazija wrote and recorded Low Roar's debut self-titled album with the help of Grammy winning producer/mixer Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele). After releasing the album in November 2011, Karazija recruited drummer Logi Guðmundsson and the two toured Germany, Poland, Lithuania and a myriad of other European countries, eventually joining the Iceland Airwaves and ATP festival lineups, as well as supporting indie favorite Soko.
Now with Leifur Björnsson on keys, Low Roar is releasing their second album, 0, on July 8, 2014 which features Icelandic darlings Amiina on strings and is co-produced by Andrew Scheps and Mike Lindsay (Tuung).