Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thorir Georg-Januar CS (2011)

February is always the worst month of the year for me. It's dark, cold, all the holidays are over and, generally, it's a great time for unproductively stewing in your own misery. At some point after New Year's, Joy Div and Prurient monopolize the this was utterly appropriate for President's Day weekend: cold, remote synth blues from Reykjavik.

After a track of dissonant, humming ambient drone, Georg segues into "Skiptir Engu," an eye-opener mingling relentlessly strummed acoustic guitar and a shuffling drum beat. It manages the difficult trick of sounding glum and uplifting at the same time. That's the paradox of this album as a whole: this is bleak, bitter music coming from lonely place, but there are glimmers of light strewn throughout the gloom.

The album alternates ambient interludes with pulsing, synth-driven tracks fleshed out by distorted guitar and Georg's hollow, frigid vocals.  I don't know what Georg's singing about, but I get the feeling that I wouldn't understand it even if I spoke Icelandic: the vocals are mixed deep beneath the drums and guitar, so it sounds as if Georg is singing from the bottom of the sea. The sound is of a man attempting, desperately, to communicate some sort of inner anguish, and failing, but resolutely trying again. The best track is "Ekki Vita," which floats along in crystalline slow motion: a hovering beat and hollowed out synth notes punctuate Georg's lost words.

It's not perfect, of course. The ambient interludes break up the natural cohesion of the synth tracks, and don't add much in recompense. Nevertheless, this is a dark, complex album that cheers you up instead of leaving you stewing in your misery.

Check out Georg's tumblr page, where you can download "Januar," here.

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