Mondays in Iceland - #75
Pascal Pinon, Sundur and the circle…
I've been listening to the latest Pascal Pinon album a lot. What follows is not exactly a commercial review; in light of the sensitive nature of this project that would be crass. This is more of a rumination—on the music of course, but also on my circular quest for a fuller understanding of life via Icelandic culture.
By the mid-80s, when I had pretty much hung up my musical career, I was trying to make the home and family thing work. One escape from my domestic duties that I did have was a subscription to Andy Warhol's Interview magazine, one of the few periodicals that retained the old Life Magazine large format. The articles and photography were mostly about New York art and music scenes, but they also showcased up-and-comers from around the world. One of these blurbs featured the Icelandic band The Sugarcubes, Björk's breakout vehicle. It was the beginning of a circle. I made a mental note of her and in 2000, the Weaver and I did manage a short trip to Iceland. She was impressed but I was overwhelmed, especially with the omnipotence of Björk in the shops. So began a cultural odyssey. After quickly getting up to speed on Icelandic music and literature (and with the advent of blogs), I even began to make personal contacts with some of the natives. Now, five trips to Iceland later, I have come to the realization that I am approaching the end of the circle. Nothing ever stays the same, of course, and my contacts in Iceland have, like me, have moved on in their lives. The classic literature of Iceland remains great (and I adore serious Icelandic theater), its modern practitioners are gifted. Icelandic cinema remains very strong. The Icelandic music scene, however, seems to have reached some kind of peak around 2010. Although there are still some acts with international success (Sigur Rós, Of Monsters and Men), the most challenging new work is coming from Jóhann Jóhannsson, as a film music composer (Prisoners, The Theory of Everything, the new Bladerunner).
All of this rambling is a preface to today's subject: Sundur, the third album by Ásthildur and by Ásthildur's sure-handed production. I could run this down track-by-track, but