After recently announcing his signing to Erased Tapes Records, Icelandic artist Högni, of indie rock group Hjaltalín & electronic group GusGus will release his debut album Two Trains on October 20th. Today he’s sharing the first single from the record, “Komdu Með”.
Listen to “Komdu Með” here:
Amidst destruction on the mainland, the two locomotives Minør and Pionér transported wagons full of rock and gravel to the Icelandic seaside during the construction of the Reykjavík harbour in 1913-1917. The two metallic giants ushered in a new age in Iceland. However, soon after construction ceased the two trains were parked and have never driven since. Now they only serve to remind us of the grandeur of a bygone future. They are the only trains ever to have graced the Icelandic landscape.
The music in Two Trains embraces the spirit of the original European avant-garde and invokes these concepts in its chugging rhythms, metallic clangs and brooding choral arrangements (men’s choruses are a distinctly Icelandic phenomena related to the national/romantic politics of the 19th and 20th century) while the lyrics speak of ominous clouds on the war-ridden eastern horizon and freight cars filled with gravel and dreams.
Words from Högni, July 2017:
“The music on Two Trains is a blue-print of a period in my life where I collided with my own self, and at that point I felt the indifference between the personal and the universal, the absolute consciousness of life’s unconsciousness. Perhaps it’s a feeling that cannot be conveyed, like watercolours that just seem to wash off into the sea. But also a flashing mirage that you can enjoy before you arrive at your last destination.”
As time went on, the two trains also began to bear a psychological implication to Högni and came to represent the different incarnations of his persona during a difficult period in his life. As a society we are also quite often faced with a fork in the road and a decision to make, and most importantly the acceptance of one’s self.
Today, the real Minør and Pionér are unemployed, mere relics. Minør is on display near the Reykjavík waterfront and Pionér is parked in an outdoor museum on a hill. But for Högni, with this release, the two trains have ushered in a new chapter in his own life.
The cover art incorporates a distorted portrait photograph taken by Anna Maggy with the help of Sigurður Oddsson’s art direction, using projected features to reflect the idea of duality.
Pre-order Two Trains here: http://phonofile.link/two-trains
Two Trains track listing:
2. Shed Your Skin
3. Komdu Með
5. Dragðu Mig
7. Break Up
8. Moon Pitcher
10. Enn Næða Orð
See Högni live:
3rd Sept – Erased Tapes 10th Anniversary Piano Stage Takeover, End of the Road Festival, DORSET UK
For the first half of the twentieth century, Ellis Island stood as the gateway to America. For some twelve million people, it was their first encounter with the land they hoped to call home.
Directed by acclaimed artist JR, ELLIS tells the story of one such migrant. Starring Robert De Niro, the film winds its way through the crumbling hallways of the abandoned Ellis Island hospital complex, now home to JR’s Unframed art installation. It’s a place that reverberates with the hopes and fears of those who passed through it, the echoes especially resonant today.
Entwined with the narrative is a score composed by Woodkid, performed and co-written by Nils Frahm. The delicate piano motifs of Winter Morning I culminate in a crescendo of strings, while the harmonium swells on the B-side are the foundation for De Niro’s narration: an encomium for those who shaped modern America.
There’s perhaps never been a more fitting time for this story, with all the proceeds going to the Sea Watch initiative, a non-profit charity dedicated to the protection and rescue of civilian refugees.
Following a screening as part of Nils’s Barbican Weekender on July 2nd, the ELLIS score will be out July 8th, the same week as America’s great federal holiday. It will be available via Erased Tapes as a mini album on CD, vinyl and in digital format containing a 12-page picture booklet.
Watch the official trailer:
Track teaser clips:
IN THE ARTISTS’ OWN WORDS:
Nils Frahm: “The opportunity to work on JR´s fantastic short film ELLIS came through my good friend Yoann aka Woodkid. We agreed on recording the piano parts in my studio in Berlin and so it happened that JR and Woodkid were guests at Durton studio on a wonderful late summers day in 2015. We managed to record all the crucial elements that day. The music fell into our laps and melted with the images: a wonderful experience. The film has stuck in my head ever since; it moved my heart and changed my soul.
A couple of weeks later I had to cancel a trip to Brussels because of a terror warning; all events got cancelled and I stayed home, having an unexpected day off. I felt rather depressed that day, thinking that the Europe I knew was already gone. I sat down at the harmonium, listened to Robert De Niro’s voice and played for the rest of the day. The result is ‘Winter Morning II,’ the B-side of the ELLIS soundtrack release.
Robert says it all in 17 minutes. We are not facing a refugee crisis. We are facing a crisis because we do not embrace, we do not sympathise and we cannot give up fear. Art can encourage so I hope this project will help fight the fear in all of us.”
Yoann Lemoine, aka Woodkid: “Ellis is my second collaboration with JR after the New York City Ballet piece for Les Bosquets. I initially wanted this piece to sound like it was recorded on an old piano that we found in the ruins of Ellis Island, in the restricted area that is not open to the public, where JR pasted the pictures on the walls for the film Ellis.
I had worked with Nils before and I wanted him to create a sound for this piano part that I composed that was extremely gentle and organic. I wanted the listener to hear the mechanisms, the breathing of the instrument. I wanted it to be imperfect, to sound like a ruin, a trace, an echo, the way the pastings on the walls seem to be ghosts, almost imperceptible.
After a few rehearsals, Nils stripped down my piano parts and we removed almost all orchestration around the piano. He then worked on the extended version that is his interpretation of my piece, with Robert de Niro’s vocals.
Because this film and this recording is historically meaningful, it was important for us to create this piece as an echo to the immigration situation in Europe, and decided to release it in support of Sea Watch.”
Following on from their Record Store Day ‘Looped EP’ release, which featured remixes by Dauwd and Lubomyr Melnyk, Kiasmos – made up of Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen – return with three new tracks and a remix by Tale Of Us.
Recorded in various locations including Reykjavík and Berlin, the EP opens with ‘Drawn’, a four-minute percussion fuelled track with gentle piano motifs. ‘Gaunt’ features the addition of ambient synths and a drum loop, underpinned by slow-moving chords. Title track ‘Swept’ which the duo offered to fans as a surprise gift in form of a free download card at previous show dates, showcases a more club-oriented beat structure alongside Kiasmos’ signature emotive instrumentation.
Closing the EP is a remix from Berlin-based duo Tale of Us who met Kiasmos in London and twist the original downbeat title track into their distinctively dark aesthetic. Pulsating hats and a driving bass loop add pace as the track builds toward an epic breakdown.
The ‘Swept EP’ will be released on 12”/DL via Erased Tapes on November 20th, 2015.
Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen release exclusive 12” for Record Store Day 2015 featuring remixes by Dauwd and Lubomyr Melnyk.
After releasing their debut album of unique Nordic electronic sounds in late 2014, Kiasmos – made up of Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen – return with a special 3-track EP featuring album highlight ‘Looped’ and remixes of album tracks ‘Held’ and ‘Burnt’.
Made in Ólafur’s newly build studio in Reykjavík, Iceland, the title track ‘Looped’ was recorded using acoustic instruments next to a variety of synthesizers, drum machines and tape delays. It also features Ólafur performing on the grand piano, producing an ambient, textured sound, which makes it a perfect home listen and equally danceable tune.
UK electronic producer Dauwd (Kompakt/Ghostly), who Kiasmos specially selected to perform at their sold out London album release show as well as remix their track, has crafted a chilled club version of ‘Held’. Whilst Ukrainian pianist and fellow Erased Tapes artist Lubomyr Melnyk has created a unique re-interpretation of ‘Burnt’ in his signature “Continuous Music” mode, performed on two pianos.
“It was an honour to be asked to remix an artist for Erased Tapes. Both the label and the artists I admire. And it was such a pleasure to work with the source material from Kiasmos. The parts had so much texture and warmth that working with them in my own space was quite inspiring. I tried to respond impulsively to the parts and allow anything to happen. I think I achieved something with a balance of the original vibe and looking in another direction.” – Dauwd
“I really enjoy the music of Ólafur and Janus. And this was a wonderful opportunity to take their theme for ‘Burnt’ and turn it into some Continuous Piano. A tiny new cadence crept into the piece. And that this is on vinyl with 24-bit sound is all the better!” – Lubomyr Melnyk
“We were very excited to get two of our favourite active musicians to do these remixes for us. Lubomyr providing a very special and unique rework with his double piano recording and Dauwd with a great dance centered remix. Both musicians brought out very interesting things in the originals that we had even missed ourselves.” – Kiasmos
The ‘Looped EP’ will be released by Erased Tapes on April 18th as a Ltd. Edition 12” – exclusively for Record Store Day 2015