My previous visits to Iceland were eight or nine years ago when I discovered that Icelandic music consisted of more than just Sigur Ros (still a favourite) and Bjork. Scribbled on a coffee house wall were the words "For a Minor Reflection" who, after a little detective work, turned out to be a newly formed post rock band consisting of four 19 year olds. A trip to Reykjavik's legendary record shop proved fruitful and expensive. I came out clutching albums by For a Minor Reflection, Valgier Sigurdsson, Johann Johannsson, 'The Kitchen Motors Family Album' (an incredible sampler album)and two albums by Olafur Arnalds.(If for some oversight you are not familiar with his works please check him out).

So, an invitation to re-visit Iceland for a field trip for a new art and photography project I am involved with seemed too good to miss, along with a chance to catch the Northern Lights. Who wouldn‘t want to go? I armed myself with Sigur Ros‘ soundtrack to their amazing documentary of a 24 hour road trip around Iceland's Route 1, camera and sketchbook and off we went.

Imagine my delight on finding Lucky Records only five minutes walk from our hotel...An absolute treasure trove of new and second hand vinyl, CD, tape, DVD, and, yes, VHS video, books and ephemera. So much stuff I was overwhelmed. The jazz section alone dwarfed most record shops I have been in recently. My mission was to find some contemporary Icelandic electronica to take home so I enquired of the gentleman at the desk who resembled a viking but was, like most Icelanders I have met, delightful and helpful. He selected a couple of new releases and took me to the listening station complete with technics turntables mixing desk headphones, the works. With a wave he invited me to take as long as I liked!

I left the store with two albums in my bag. First of all Aaiien‘s 'Spaces'. Falling somewhere in the spaces AphexTwin and Concretism dwell in, 'Spaces' is an electronic music dream. Composer Hallmar Gauti Halldorsson was born and raised in a remote village in Western Iceland where he grew up enfolded in the wild landscape influenced by math rock, ambient music and harsh noise. He has developed his own thoroughly modern sound, which is full of repetitive beats, polyrhythms and textures mixed in with ambient soundscapes. All these influences come into play on this his latest album.The simple minimal cover design perfectly reflects the intelligent atmospheres and tunes enclosed. A great recommendation.

I was sold on the second album after half a minute. Frosti Johnsson is Bistro Boy, a Reykjavik based musician who studied classical music before turning to electronics. Sitting comfortably on the downtempo/ambient sofa, 'Piano i Pokunni' is simply gorgeous music that carries you away into the blue distance. In total contrast to the wild and dangerous territory of 'Spaces' this is pure chill out. 'Spaces' seems to reflect the crashing waterfalls, storms and distant mountains. 'Piano' (translated piano in the mist) is full of dreamy atmospheric soundscapes and gentle beats that transport you into other dimensions. A beautiful record.

The guys in Lucky Records were brilliant. They informed me that For a Minor Relection were sadly no longer recording and also gave me a list of artists I should probably check out including Straffaenn Hakon, Stereo Hypnosis and Amiina. Perhaps you should too?

PS: And, yes, we saw the Northern Lights.













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