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