Samaris are “a band with the gift for piecing songs together in a way that makes everything feel right” – so our reviewer wrote in his consideration of the Icelandic trio’s debut album.
Samaris, released on 29 July via One Little Indian, draws its inspiration from 19th-century Icelandic poetry. It’s a record that deals heavily in the resolution of oppositions: the past and and present – but also the acoustic and electronic – come together in a quite spectacular and forward-thinking way.
Below the band talk about the meanings behind each track. UK visitors can also listen to a full stream of the album too.
The first three songs on the album are poems by Steingrímur Thorsteinsson. This was the name of our first EP from August 2011. The title means ‘you sound’ and it’s kind of an ode to music and how [it] can heal all wounds and soften harm.
This is the first song that we wrote and were satisfied with.
It’s really hard to explain the lyrics of this song. ‘Viltu Vitrast’ is kind of a question if you want to get wiser/informed. It’s a religious Icelandic folk tale about people who need help from a celestial being, but worry if will choose not to manifest its power on Earth.
Or ‘Good Moon’ in English, it’s an ode to the moon [and] hHow it shines so bright in the night and watches over us. Shines into our windows and into our hearts when we feel hurt or alone and leads us to the right direction.
The text is soothing and calm almost like a lullaby.
Lyrics were written in 1924 by Örn Arnarson. It is a much darker song than the previous songs; the author is describing war, how it can terminate an entire generation and how all nations suffer because of it. A very dramatic tone is set on the very first bars where the clarinet and the vocals play a sad, calm melody over thick bass and iron sounds. The lyrics are scary and effective especially the last line: “syrgjum meyjar, söfnum liðis svo skal góðra drengja hefnt” – which means: “mourn maidens; gather forces and then good men will be avenged”.
Lyrics are by Guðný Jónsdóttir. It is a lullaby, we made the first version of the song in 2011 but it was never released. A year later we dub-ed it up and changed the name to lulladub, if that makes any sense, and released on our second EP.
It’s really hard to explain it but it is an Icelandic lullaby about a lost dream and treasure.
The name of the song is taken from one of the characters in the Moomin; a ghost-shaped creature that scares everyone, she says nothing and the ground freezes below her. The character fits very well to the song because it is a very dramatic description of an ice storm and a freezing cold winter. But in the end, like always, it stops to snow and the world gets bright again… at least in the song.
The lyrics of this song are by a famous Icelandic author Páll Ólafsson written in late 19th century. Páll has written many of the best-known Icelandic poems and was a leading figure in Icelandic poetry. The lyrics are a metaphor for a person who is compared to a boat how is struggling to get back up to dry land before it gets dark but it’s difficult because of heavy currents.
Now it’s time for a change, stop all that misery and get a new boat and sail out to new coves, but nobody knows how long and hard that journey will take. This boat or person is searching for new and better life.
This is the same song as Sólhvörf I. Doddi decided to remix it just after we had finished the first version. We liked it and we were still in time to add it to our second EP ‘Stofnar falla’ ,so we did it. We thought was nice to have two versions of the same song; one calm and one more clubby.
‘Hljóma þú’ (Muted remix)’
When we approached Bjarni Muted (who lives in a small town in the far east of Iceland) he was mostly known to make classy drum and bass music. But he had taken on a new style and delivered this smooth and soulful remix, faithful to the original but takes it to another level.
Viltu vitrast’ (Futuregrapher remix)
Top notch party trip-hop groove in this one, remixed by the co-head of Reykjavík electronic label Möller Records and infamous dance maniac Árni Grétar. The vibraphone line and the 808 cowbell sound even better after 3 and half cups of coffee (with a dash of milk)
‘Góða tungl’ (DJ Arfi remix)
DJ Arfi (one time alias of Bjargmundur, or Beatmundur as he is sometime called) brings the song to a more darker place, and while remaining faithful to the arrangement he fucks up the melody real good.
One of the few remaining DJs in Iceland that can scratch, and no newcomer to that area.
‘Stofnar falla’ (Subminimal remix)
Tjörvi is one of Reykjavík’s finest drum and bass producers, and this remix is a testimonial of exactly that. He doubles the tempo of the song with a smooth jungle beat and Photek style bass grooves.
Subminimal takes you on a dark trip making you scared for your life, while he pulls out the big guns in the epic bliss of a final chapter.
Listen to an exclusive stream of Samaris, below (UK only).