Being the suspicious guy that I am – seeing dark conspiracies at every turn ( I go to sleep every night wearing a tin foil helmet to block outside interference from government agencies & extraterrestrial beings) I do not believe everything I read. Hey, just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not watching me…
So when my editor passed on the press release for Icelandic singer songwriter Ásgeir Trausti a few worries sprung to mind immediately. Firstly, (so the press release reads) 10% of the population of Iceland own this guy’s début album. He is only 21 – for heaven’s sake – and he’s amassing an army! We’ve seen so many acts hyped up from nothing that it’s sad. Nowadays, when I see success on that kinda scale – and at such a pace – I distinctly start to smell a rat. But only time will tell.
Secondly, I have to ask … Does the world really need another sombre faced folk singer songwriter? No matter how high their cheekbones are (and, believe me, girls and boys, they are HIGH) – all they do is sing prettily – yet downcast – about mountains and forlorn lovers blah blah … yawn.
Lastly, where the hell are the diacritical marks to spell out the title of his début album in Icelandic on my borrowed lap-top?
The title of the B-side track to Ásgeir’s début single ‘King and Cross’ is ‘Lupin Intrigue’ which caught my interest immediately. I’m thinking werewolves: Lupinus being Latin for ‘of or belonging to a wolf’ (I’m a horror film junkie.) But I’m probably way off the mark with this. After a quick Google session, I find that the Lupin is also a flowering plant that produces a bean widely used in Mediterranean cooking.
The song starts some with tentative piano chords and an oscillating electronic pulse that continues to escalate slowly in the background throughout the song. A slow burning piano driven track that climaxes in a shimmering oceanic cascade of almost John Frusciante-esque backwards guitar lines, synths, space delayed drums and choral harmonies.
Ásgeir brings to mind Ben Howard – and some of the luscious piercing harmonies have a bit of a Fleet Fox’s flavour to them. There isn’t much evidence of it in this song though, except for some lilting falsetto vocal in the background. But Ásgeir’s voice tends to veer towards the hallowed Jeff Buckley territory, at moments, exquisitely so.
All in all, the song had been chosen as a B-side track for a reason. It’s not the finest song in his repertoire. But what a strong B-side it is! There definitely could be something very special about this young singer and a huge amount of his countrymen seem to agree. His début album Dyrd í dauðathogn on One Little Indian Records is scheduled for world wide release under the English title ‘In The Silence’ this autumn.
For organic, melody driven folk music lovers – or just to see what the fuss is all about – I suggest checking this guy out. There is the whole package with him, so let’s see what he does with it!
– © The Wicked Venetian July 2013 –