Review: Árstíðir ”Nivalis”

Review: Árstíðir ”Nivalis”

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Árstíðir – ”Nivalis” (Season of Mist records)

With the success of Sólstafir, Auðn, Árstíðir Lífsins along with numerous others, the power and the glory of Icelandic music has rarely been at such a peak. Árstíðir, while certainly not newcomers, are nevertheless also raising the blue white and red flag that represents the natural home of the fjords and the forests.

Since uniting in 2008 the three original band members Daniel, Gunnar and Ragnar have aligned their voices into silky harmonic patterns that remarkably at times even carry echoes of the brothers Gibb, The Bee Gees. And that’s no slight as The Bee Gees wrote some of the most iconic songs of the 70s and 80s.

A successful self-titled album debut in 2009 saw Árstíðir gain plenty of admirers and not just within the home borders. Follow-up Svefns Og Vöku Skil led to the band winning the coveted Eiserner Eversteiner European Folk Music Award in Germany.

Following the release of their third album Hvel, they toured the US for the first time. While Nivalis is their fourth true album it’s worth adding that two years ago they also put out the album Verloren Verleden, a collaboration with Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen ( ex- The Gathering) in which they jointly explored re-imagined traditional and classical songs.

Nivalis is a melancholic and moving album although it doesn’t perhaps carry quite the same variety of thread and texture as the Icelandic behemoths Sólstafir at their absolute scorching best. While the latter inject some dark clouds into their symphonies, Árstíðir tend towards a technicolour soundscape.

Drawing parallels with Sólstafir may be obvious but it is entirely natural to do so. For a start Árstíðir have recently supported them on an extended European tour and both sets of Icelanders are with Season of Mist. Árstíðir’s enchanting appeal transcends genres and while some would latch onto the pop qualities of their undeniably captivating curves, others see through the obvious to more folk and prog elements. ‘While This Way’ is a haunting opener but on the second song ‘Lover’, the contours are pillow soft and warm enough to cosy up to.

Árstíðir means ‘seasons’ in Icelandic. Their beautifully carved contours on songs such as EntangledandWasting Time certainly capture something of the natural beauty of their homeland. Nivalis is a comforting easy listen. If you’re in a lackadaisical mood it will fit the easy vibe and you won’t disturb the neighbours.

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