Solstafir (IS), Myrkur (DK), Árstídir (IS)

One of Iceland's most special bands, Sólstafir returns after three years to Budapest! The reformed line up released its firs album this year titled Berdreyminn, which can be regarded as their very best so far: whirling great post-guitar music that is impossible to put in any genre bringing Scandinavian melancoly and folklore. It proves they are at the peak of their creativity. Their support will be the also album-introducing Myrkur. The Danish multi-instrumentaist builds up his fragile murderous songs of black metal, pastoral folk and more somewhere halfway between Sigur Rós and Bathory. Support act will come by the great Icelandic Árstídir.

 

Solstafir (IS)

SÓLSTAFIR are different. Their unique blend of metal with beautiful melodies, psychedelic moments and a strong undercurrent of classic / hard rock comes as varied and at times appealingly bizarre as the landscapes of their native Iceland. Their fifth full-length "Ótta" is the logical continuation of the musical course this four-piece adopted on the highly acclaimed forerunner "Svartir Sandar" (2011). Expect the unexpected, such as seduction by subtle strings or a hypnotic banjo. None of this was apparent when SÓLSTAFIR released their album debut "Í Blóði og Anda", which translates as 'In Blood and Spirit' in 2002. Instead of today's Icelandic gravel throated siren chants, frontman Aðalbjörn Tryggvason spit forth vitriolic crust-like vocals and the ripping guitars were clearly black metal inspired. Yet the band was as clearly identifiable back then as now and along their way with the next albums "Masterpiece of Bitterness" (2005) and "Köld" (2009) introducing new elements in a continuous evolution. SÓLSTAFIR's music is as much the product of Arctic blizzards as of red hot volcanic magma, erupting geysers, lush green pastures, and salty waves. With "Ótta" the Icelanders touch something ancient and timeless, while defying easy categorisation. This album needs to be heard again and again to peel back layers of details, each different and yet always revealing the same: great songs – all of them. The song titles of "Ótta" form a concept based on an old Icelandic system of time keeping similar to the monastic hours called "Eykt" ("eight"). The 24 hour day was divided into 8 parts of 3 hours each. The album starts at midnight, the beginning of "Lágnætti" ("low night"), continues through each Eyktir of the day and ends with "Náttmál" ("nighttime") from 21:00 to 0:00. This form of time keeping is more open than the relentless ticking of modern times, where each second is made to count, which turns humanity into cocks of the corporate clockwork. Now SÓLSTAFIR give you the antidote. Just lean back, close your eyes, take your time and lose yourself in this masterpiece called "Ótta"!

Myrkur (DK)

From the darkness of Scandinavia emerges MYRKUR. Hailing from Denmark, the one-woman project signed to renowned independent label Relapse Records in 2014 off the strength of just one EP, its eponymous debut (released September 2014). Envisioned and realized by classically-trained multiinstrumentalist and songwriter Amalie Bruun, MYRKUR combined the rawness of second-wave black metal bands like Ulver and Darkthrone with a natural, ethereal sonic beauty. MYRKUR introduced a wholly unique perspective on the genre of black metal––one that immediately put her on the map and caught the attention of listeners and publications worldwide.

Though the word "myrkur" means "darkness" in Icelandic, Bruun's music is far from monochromatic. With its distinct sense of Nordic isolation, MYRKUR's compositions are at once savage and delicate. Choral and folk elements abound, lending the music a mystical, legendary quality and an untouchable equilibrium between dark and light. MYRKUR’s influences range from nature to traditional Scandinavian folklore to Norse mythology and far beyond. Bruun elaborates, "I always dreamed about becoming a Huldra, an Elver girl, a Valkyrie, the goddess Freja. These powerful women in Norse Mythology have an element of beauty and mystique, but they are also deadly.”

That power was more than evident on MYRKUR’s debut EP, but fully came into its own on Bruun’s first full-length, M, released by Relapse in August 2015. Featuring production and guest appearances from renowned metal legends such as Krystoffer “Garm” Rygg (Ulver), Teloch (Mayhem/Nidingr) and Christopher Amott (Arch Enemy), M showcases Bruun’s learned and mature perspective on black metal alongside her prodigious compositional and vocal talents. In its 8/10 review, Decibel Magazine characterized M as “a black metal record that respects tradition without drowning in it.”

Publications including NPR, Stereogum, Pitchfork, Spin and dozens of other outlets worldwide have shared this sentiment, hailing M and MYRKUR as the very thing they stand for - not a drastic reinvention, not an atavistic homage, but a unique, timeless, and true expression of black metal.

Now, on the one-year anniversary of her critically-acclaimed, masterful debut full-length M, the Danish black metal artist is set to unveil a captivating live recording from the historic Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway. Aptly titled Mausoleum, the album features beautifully dramatic & stripped-down acoustic reinventions of seven songs from M plus one brand new song and a Bathory cover; all accompanied by the storied Norwegian Girls Choir. Captured in a cold, dimly-lit tomb covered in morbid frescos that depict the circle of human life from conception till death, Mausoleum is an incredible showcase of MYRKUR's sublime yet haunting voice in a truly chilling, unrivaled atmosphere. With two acclaimed releases, US and EU tours with Behemoth and Deafheaven, and a number of worldwide festival appearances under her belt, MYRKUR is ready to help her homeland reclaim its role as a global leader in extreme music.

MYRKUR is:

Amalie Bruun - All Instruments, Composition

Árstidír (IS)

Not many bands can lay claim to the kind of dramatic career development that the Icelandic band Árstíðir can. Formed in the wake of the 2008 stock market crash, they found themselves catapulted to the top of the Icelandic music charts within six months of their debut, and then forged ahead with their 2010 tour despite a volcanic eruption that stalled global travel.

In 2012, Árstíðir was the first Icelandic band to ever win the Eiserner Eversteiner European Folk Music Award (in Plauen, Germany) and were scheduled to play the prestigious TFF Rudolstadt festival in July 2013. While on tour in Germany that year, an impromptu performance of “Heyr himna smiður” in the Bürger Bahnhof train station in Wuppertal swept them up in a tidal wave of international attention. Hastily recorded by a friend who posted it to YouTube, the video received more than four million views and sparked global interest in both the band and Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson’s composition.  

By May 2014, they had launched a Kickstarter campaign that quickly raised $70,000 (substantially exceeding the initial $20,000 goal) to finance their third album, Hvel (Spheres). In return for their investment, backers were promised not only a copy of the finished recording, but also gifts ranging from hand knit Icelandic sweaters to vials of volcanic ash from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. 

Once fully funded, the band took up residence in Toppstödin, an abandoned coal-fired power plant that had stood empty for two decades before a group of artists and entrepreneurs repurposed it as a creative space. The acoustics in the space provided them with an ideal environment for composing and rehearsing, and regular visits and feedback from album producer and multi-instrumentalist Styrmir Hauksson (Ásgeir, Retro Stefson, GusGus) pushed the band to excel at their unique brand of collaborative composition, which involved individual members bringing a seed of an idea to the group after which they worked out the finer points of music, lyrics and arrangement. As soon as they were satisfied with the tracks, the band moved down the road to Orgelsmiðjan, a studio in Reykjavík and home to many of Iceland’s renowned recording artists (Of Monsters and Men and John Grant). The result is a collection of songs which weave both traditional and electronically-inspired instrumental threads together with soaring vocal harmonies, and that critics have described as “beautiful and atmospheric” and “utterly mesmerizing.”

Árstíðir’s music defies genre borders and might best be described as classically influenced indie folk rock. Whether in a train station in Germany, a concert hall in Russia or a bar at home in Reykjavík, theirs is music that mesmerizes audiences and creates a kind of intimacy leading critics to write, “[Hvel] is simply a stunning album, beautifully written and arranged, with a real magical quality to it,” and that live performances “may be the closest I’ve ever come to worship.” The band members’ wide range of musical backgrounds and experience, combined with professional interests ranging from law to literature and engineering to computers, make them unique in their wholly democratic approach to music making and performance.

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