Nun wird "Dýrð í dauðaþögn" in einer englischen Version unter dem Titel "In The Silence" international veröffentlicht. John Grant, dessen "Pale Green Ghosts" soeben bei Platten vor Gericht auf den 3. Platz kam, übertrug die isländischen Texte, die teilweise von Ásgeirs 72-jährigem Vater geschrieben wurden, ins Englische.
Ásgeirs zerbrechlicher, an Bon Iver erinnernder Falsettgesang und zehn Songs, die intimen Folk, elektronische Spielereien und Piano-Pop zu verbinden wissen, werden dafür sorgen, dass "In The Silence" in vielen Jahresbestenlisten auftauchen und dass man den Namen Ásgeir Trausti auch außerhalb Islands kennen wird.
Of the music actually on In The Silence, you may have already heard Ásgeir’s disarmingly wonderful ditty, “King and Cross”. Blending the jerky strum of acoustic guitar with lucid funk bass grooves and semi-jazz drum beats was a bold gamble, but the result is a folktronica anthem (if ever there was such a thing) that oozes swagger out of every pore. “Hide Your Head In The Snow” warps the boundaries of folk too. Erratic, blurred percussion scuttles beneath gentle arpeggios; it’s got an East London vibe to the production, like kwes. has had a cheeky delve – not what you’d expect from a folk singer from Iceland.
Some tunes are more in line with expectations. “Was There Nothing” features delicate fingerpicking and chorus-laden vocals, like any stellar acoustic folk cut does these days. The melodies sparkle, and although Ásgeir is singing a heartbreaking lament, there’s an innate summer-meadow atmosphere. It’s tranquil to the extreme, almost to the point of isolation – though it feels isolated, due to sparse instrumentation and gossamer hooks, it’s not a lonely track. It’s content (even with the contrasting lyrical themes). “Torrent” is the kind of piano-led Scandi-pop that might be spouted by a Sigur Rós side-project; it’s full of wide-eyed zest like a curious stag, there’s the rumblings of a makeshift folk orchestra and a callous disregard for continuity. Passages rise and fall, dropping in and out, with dynamic swerves and rhythmic atrophy.
You can debate whether this record is even needed until the cows come home, but the fact is, despite being the biggest of big deals in Iceland, without the commercial clout of an English language release, very few outside of the country would have ever heard of Ásgeir. As such, for most people, In The Silence will be the first interaction with him, and even though it’s a translation rather than a full collection of new material, it still possesses a certain magic for those already acquainted with his output.
In The Silence is a complete package. It’s got pristine pop lacquer, it’s full of hum-along motifs, it’s got moments you can dance to and moments you can chill to; the lyrics are emotive, and every instrumental performance is as powerful as the Ark Of The Covenant. There’s nary a misstep, and yet, it still sounds as raw as a carcass in a butcher’s window. This may be the second time it’s had producers poke and jab, but it’s not overwrought or varnished with industrial blandness. It’s a rare jewel of an album that can boast all these qualities, and really is a testament to the talent that Ásgeir possesses.
(The Line Of Best Fit)
This is not just folktronica by numbers. I suspect it’s had a suitable gloss added since its original version. The production here is expertly handled. Everything sounds perfectly balanced, and has layering that neatly wraps around Ásgeir’s vocals.
‘Higher’ is a sweet introduction to what is about to come, first single ‘King and Cross’ builds to an almost dance-y crescendo and will stick in your head for days. ‘Torrent’ adds some gravitas to proceedings, whilst ‘Going Home’ sounds like a sweet hymn, with a surprising horn section. ‘Head In The Snow’ starts with rattling percussion that is both fresh and inventive, and saves the song from being just another finger plucking standard. ‘In Harmony’ breaks out an impromptu choral backing that just soars.
All in all, this is a wonderful album, that deserves all the credit it’s been getting. For a guy in his 20s, from the sleepy hamlet of Laugarbakki in Northwest Iceland, Ásgeir might just have the world at his feet. Then he might just need all the help he can get.