Category: LP

04
May

Dissonance

History freely dilates and collapses on Valgeir Sigurðsson’s Dissonance, his first solo release since 2012. Its three large-scale works are haunted by the old Western tradition, infused with the ethereal workings of electronics and sound manipulation.Dissonance treads elegantly along a fine line between traditional symphonic organicism and the fissures of the faltering structures of reality. It takes forward Sigurðsson’s typically expansive, panoramic writing, and elevates it to a perpetual construction and deconstruction of time and space.

These are hardly his first experiments with the archaic technology of classical instruments, but here the distance between past and present is precisely what the music itself is designed to explore, and to distort.

Recorded and produced between September 2015 and November 2016 at Greenhouse Studios, Dissonance is disarmingly human, reflecting the most extreme four years of Sigurðsson’s life full of ecstatic joy and deep sorrow. Dissonance is a personal and collective musical treatise to explore and question a world that is collapsing under its internal dissonances.

The recording process on Dissonance incorporates an orchestral recording technique that Sigurðsson has been developing for some years now, where he breaks up the orchestra and records each of its sections separately. Layer after layer he records performances by collaborators Liam Byrne and Reykjavík Sinfonia. A handful of string players and just one of each of the orchestra’s instruments are then multiplied to create an imaginary orchestra. This method enables Sigurðsson’s complete control over all the details and nuances, and the trade-off for the time-consuming process is a truly unique sounding ensemble that is at the composer’s disposal for further electronic manipulation. This also results in an elastic palette of sound for the live performance version of Dissonance which Sigurðsson will take to the stage in 2017, alongside Liam Byrne (on strings) and visuals created by the Antivj collective.

Credits

released April 21, 2017

Written by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Dissonance arranged by Liam Byrne and Valgeir Sigurðsson (after W.A. Mozart)

Additional production and electronics on * by Paul Corley

Liam Byrne played the manifold Viola da Gamba on Dissonance

Electronics by Valgeir Sigurðsson

No Nights Dark Enough & Eighteen Hundred & Seventy-five Performed by Reykjavík Sinfonia:

Flute, Piccalo Flute: Melkorka Ólafsdóttir
Oboe: Daði Kolbeinsson
Clarinet & Bass Clarinet: Rúnar Óskarsson
Bassoon: Michael Kaularts
Trumpet: Guðmundur Hafsteinsson
French Horn: Stefán Jón Bernharðsson
Trombone: Sigurður Þorbergsson
Tuba: Ron Nimrod
1st violin: Ari Þór Vilhjálmsson
2nd violin: Pálína Árnadóttir
Viola: Þórunn Ósk Marínósdóttir
Cello: Sigurður Bjarki Gunnarsson
Contrabass: Borgar Magnason
Harp: Katie Buckley
Percussion: Frank Aarnik
Piano: Tinna Þorsteinsdóttir

Produced, Mixed & Mastered by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Engineered by Paul Evans and Valgeir Sigurðsson
Edited by Paul Evans

Executed at Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavík

Photography: Brendan Canty & Colm O’ Herlihy,
Graphic design by Francis Redman

_____________________________

No Nights Dark Enough commissioned by Spitalfields Festival, London. First performance by City of London Sinfonia & Hugh Brunt 2014
This recording contains a portion of the work.
Eighteen Hundred & Seventy-five commissioned by Winnipeg New Music Festival. First performance given by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra & Alexander Mickelthwate 2013

_____________________________

The all hearing advisory board; Paul Corley, Liam Byrne, Paul Evans, Ben Frost, Nico Muhly.

Thank you, Bedroom Community & Greenhouse teams, & every single intern, past and present.
Robin Rimbaud, everyone at Spitalfields Festival, everyone at New Music Festival Winnipeg,

Published by Faber Music Publishing Ltd.

This is a Bedroom Community record.

℗&© 2017 Bedroom Community

04
May

Architecture of Loss

1. Guard Down
2. The Crumbling
3. World Without Ground
4. Between Monuments
5. Guardian at the Door
6. Erased Duet
7. Reverse Erased
8. Big Reveal
9. Plainsong
10. Gone Not Forgotten

The parameters of musical possibility are vast on Valgeir Sigurðsson’s third LP; Architecture of Loss. The music flows from no “notes” at all to lyrical, folk-like melody, from spare, acoustic sound to dense digital intervention. Originally composed for the same titled ballet by Stephen Petronio. Architecture of Loss is a powerful work in its own right in which Valgeir works from a broad palette of absences.By deploying an array of digital processes, a small, flexible ensemble and pared- down musical materials, the music can pivot instantly into someplace radically different. The viola hangs onto a single note, for instance, then transforms that note into a scraping, rasping effect. That transformation from pure tone to pure gesture ripples through the fiddle’s electronic multiples until the whole texture has turned inside out; a spare, sputtering, abstract electronic beat yields to the shaggy sounds of a few live drums or vice versa. The result is what sounds like a completely different piece of music.The performers were handpicked from trusted Bedroom Community regulars: in addition to Valgeir himself and composer/keyboardist Nico Muhly, the album features violist Nadia Sirota – her sound is as deeply individual and immediately recognizable as the sound of her speaking voice and takes full possession of the notes on the page—and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily – a secret weapon of a sideman who excels at exactly the things you can’t put down on paper, from solid grooves to scribbles of noise.

The resulting piece maintains a structural unity surpassing either of Valgeir’s previous, more formally open LPs. While his solo debut Ekvílibríum boasted singers like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Dawn McCarthy, the voice of that record was unmistakably Valgeir’s own. On his second solo disc – the soundtrack to the film Draumalandið – the suite of movements released on disc enjoyed an aesthetic life of its own independent of the finished film. Draumalandið and Ekvílibríum were allowed to develop freely as recording projects whereas Architecure of Loss had to be realized with physical performance in mind, by its players and dancers.

This album represents the piece as conceived and reconceived for the stage, and then reconceived again as pure music (the movement “Gone, Not Forgotten,” for instance, is exclusive to this recording). Created, pored over and developed: the result is a meticulously designed structure, a sound architecture of musical and physical gestures and stillnesses.

“The music […] can sound chill and eerie: there’s singing, echoing, rasping, crackling. At times, the piano emits single, spaced-out notes that sound like water dripping resoundingly on ice in a momentary thaw” -Arts Journal

“Hypnotic” -New York Press

“A spare, melancholy, original score” -Solomons Says

“Cool and haunting” -danceviewtimes

credits

released September 24, 2012Composed, produced, recorded & mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Shahzad Ismaily; percussion, bass guitar, guitars, aquaphone, banjo, vocal, synthesizers
Nadia Sirota; viola
Nico Muhly; piano
Valgeir Sigurðsson; electronics, piano, baritone guitar, programming, percussion
Helgi Hrafn Jónsson; trombone

Recorded at Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavík
Studio manager; Sturla Mio Þórisson
Additional Engineering; Paul Evans
Assistants; Luke Howard, Alexander Overington & Einar Stefánsson
Score preparation; Petter Ekman, Alexander Overington

Artwork & design by Ivan Khmelevsky
Portrait photography by Thomas Humery

For Sigga Sunna

Thank you
Stephen Petronio, Urd Johannessen, Ryan Kelly, The Chiara Quartet
Ben Frost, Daníel Bjarnason, Hildur Maral Hamíðsdóttir, Gabríel Dagur

04
May

Draumalandið

Valgeir Sigurðsson has made his name as an exponent of musical subtlety. As an engineer and producer, he’s often focused on the intimate, the miniature. On his solo debut Ekvílibríum, his songwriting and composition tended towards the muted or the oblique. His best-known work is punctuated with question marks and ellipses, and not so many exclamation points.
But this is only one side of his musical capabilites. Draumalandið (“Dreamland”), a documentary about the exploitation of Iceland’s natural resources, tells a story about huge things—the fortunes of a whole nation; the destruction of vast landscapes; and the global economic forces, greater still than any nation, that fuel it all—and for his soundtrack to the film, Valgeir has brought out a heavier set of tools. His entire roster of Bedroom Community labelmates contributes in some way to the creation of the score: classical composers Nico Muhly and Daníel Bjarnason, industrial wizard Ben Frost, and American folksinger Sam Amidon, along with a host of others, and the small orchestra assembled for the record swells from moments of expansive beauty into massive, surging symphonic force. Its harmonies are anxious, pulsing, driven.
Not that this is an album lacking in subtlety. Draumalandið the film takes on the delicate task of unmasking the apparent win/win proposition of Iceland’s aluminum smelting boom—clean energy! new jobs! economic growth!—as a false blessing with very real consequences. Likewise, Draumalandið the soundtrack takes global, at times seemingly abstract questions, and offers deeply personal responses.
Valgeir’s score makes fierce and direct statements of sorrow and indignation, but it also expresses, with a kind of hushed awe, the beauty of landscapes on the brink of devastation, and the seductive shimmer of the illusions that imperil them. Tender, fragmented melodies rise out of uncanny musical textures; in the album’s opening track, Sam sings “Grýlukvæði,” an Icelandic folktune about a greedy hag come to devour naughty children, just as he would an Appalachian ballad, and in turn Valgeir reframes it as a sad, sympathetic reprimand to a people (Icelanders, yes, but by extension all of humanity) who would sell their birthright to a rapacious multinational.
This is all painted in brushstrokes broad and minute, from palette of hugely varied shades—Sam’s banjo playing, Daníel’s John Cage-style piano treatments, Ben’s halos of distortion—but somehow, it all fits together as a coherent musical argument. Heard as an accompaniment to the film, the Draumalandið score can disappear into the images and the narrative. Listened to on its own, it rewards close attention: for the subtle interconnections between the movements, for their cumulative emotional force, and simply as a series of meticulously scored and recorded musical moments, urgent meditations on the natural sublime.

 

Credits

released February 22, 2010

Performed by
Valgeir Sigurðsson Prepared piano, percussion, bass, programming, rhodes
Nico Muhly Piano, harmonium, celesta, dulcitone
Sam Amidon Acoustic guitar, banjo, vocals on Grýlukvæði
Ben Frost  Programming & processing on Grýlukvæði, Nowhere Land & Helter Smelter
Paul Corley Programming on Hot Ground, Cold

Soloists
Nadia Sirota Viola
Hildur I Guðnadóttir Cello
Borgar Magnason Double bass

Ensemble
Violin Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, Ingrid Karlsdóttir, Kristín Björg Ragnarsdóttir, Rósa Hrund Guðmundsdóttir
Cello Hrafnkell Orri Egilsson, Júlía Mogensen, Sigurgeir Agnarsson,
Double Bass Borgar Magnason, Óttar Sæmundsen
Harp Katie Buckley
Bassoon Rebekka Bryndís Björnsdóttir
French Horn Sturlaugur Jón Björnsson, Emil Friðfinnsson
Trombone Samúel Jón Samúelsson
Marimba, Percussion Frank Aarnink

Piano prepared by Daníel Bjarnason
Sampled & edited by Sturla Mio Þórisson
Kontakt instruments built by Paul Evans

Hank Drum made by 7oi,  courtesy of Matthew Collings (thanks!)

Produced, arranged & mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Orchestrated, arranged & conducted by Nico Muhly

Composed by Valgeir Sigurðsson (Pollination Music Publishing). Except Grýlukvæði traditional, arranged by Sam Amidon, Ben Frost, Nico Muhly & Valgeir Sigurðsson. Past Tundra composed by Valgeir Sigurðsson & Nico Muhly.

Recorded, mixed & mastered by Valgeir Sigurðsson at Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavík
Studio manager: Sturla Mio Þórisson
Additional engineering by Sturla Mio Þórisson, Ben Frost, Paul Evans & Paul Corley
Hildur I Guðnadóttir recorded her cello at home, in Berlin.

Photography by Pétur Thomsen –  www.peturthomsen.is “AL3_26d” from the series Imported Landscape
Graphic design by Pierre Marly

Thank you:
Andri Snær Magnason, Hanna Björk Valsdóttir, Sigurður Gísli Pálmason & Þorfinnur Guðnason.

The Greenhouse & Bedroom Community teams!
Everyone who played, listened and helped make this album happen.

For making everything possible and all things worthwhile:
Sigríður Sunna Reynisdóttir, Gabríel Dagur Valgeirsson.

This is a Bedroom Community Record

04
May

Ekvílibríum

released September 11, 2007

Produced, Recorded & Mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Additional recording / studio assistant Sturla ‘Míó’ Þórisson
Score preparation Nico Muhly
Mixed and mastered at Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavík
Recorded at Greenhouse Studios / various studios and random locations.
Thanks to everyone who provided a space!

Paintings by Merrilee Challiss
Image processing by Sturla ‘Míó’ Þórisson
Portrait photograhy by Charlie Strand
Graphic design by Ritxi /  www.iikki.com Acknowledgments: Ben Frost -for listening, reflecting and pushing me. Sigga Sunna -fyrir hjartað og jafnvægið. Míó -fyrir allt, alltaf. Gabríel Dagur -ofurhetja. Nico -for the spark and mastery. Will Oldham -for encouraging and transcending. Stephen Budd & Jo Beckett -for the unconditional support. Björk -fyrir Fókus og innblástur. Fjölskylda, vinir, friends & collaborators through the years, everyone who contributed to this album: TAKK+THANK YOU!!!