Listening to Emily D’Angelo’s new CD set me off on a search for more music by Hildur Gu∂nadóttir. This led me to Nortdic Affect; an ensemble who play contemporary music, mostly by female Iceandic composers) on baroque instruments. The older of the two albums is Clockworking, from 2015. It’s rather hypnotic. The music kind of inhabits the space between ambient sound and something more structured. Certainly the range of sounds that the musicians generate is remarkable, even when electronics aren’t involves, as they sometimes are. The album booklet is quite detailed and it’s more eloquent than I would be.
The later album, H e (a) r from 2018 is a concept album riffing off the words “here”, hear” “hér” (Icelandic for “here”) and “her”. It’s described as a “meditation on embodiment, acoustics and ecology” and it has six pieces by female composers (one Estonian, the rest Icelandic) interspersed with fragments of sounds including spoken text by the ensemble’s violinist. Again, it’s a seductive and unusual sound world. In this case it’s designed to be engineered in 3D for the space it’s performed in and the CD comes with a companion surround sound Blu-ray audio disk. Unfortunately I only had access to the stereo release so I can’t comment on the Blu-ray or any of the other fancy tech it comes packaged with.
So, a couple of really unusual records that are well off my usual beaten track but very intriguing.