Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Samaris - Silkidrangar


Release date: 05 May 2014
Album of the week
Samaris Silkidrangar
02 May 2014, 09:30 Written by Laurence Day
Few outfits nowadays can stake a claim on a brand of music that's all their own; Samaris can however, with their clarinet-led electronic post-dance (we probably need a more concise term). The trio, comprising Pascal Pinon's Jófríður Ákadóttir on vocal duties, Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir on clarinet and Þórður Kári Steinþórsson twiddling knobs, synths and drum machines, hailing from Iceland's misty shores, do it with aplomb.

When Samaris, their debut full-length, formed from two domestic-only EPs and a scattering of remixes, dropped last July, most onlookers were powerless to resist. That magnetic allure continues to this day, with the follow-up, Silkidrangar, yanking our attention upon first note. Not much has changed in the nine months since Samaris – they still recycle 19th century Icelandic poetry, they still parade the clarinet and forge atmospheres – but what has changed has bolstered their claim as one of the most exciting artists in recent memory.

One of the most enticing aspects of Samaris was their propensity for representing nature and surrounding paraphernalia within the borders of their music. Whether deliberate or not (and our recent interview would hint towards it being coincidence), tracks like the spectral “Hafið”, with its omnipresent sense of desolation and tick-tock drums, and “Brennur Stjarna”, aping aerial atmospheric acrobatics, convey the unforgiving wilderness of Siberia or Canada’s sprawling pine barrens. The enveloping patchwork quilt tone of Silkidrangar summons visions of the farthest, most inhospitable corners of our planet. Immersed in the dulcet throbs of ditties like “Nótt” or the pulsating glow of “ÞóTt hann rigni”, you can easily imagine worlds splayed out ad infinitum, riddled with white-dusted firs, the aurora borealis, and blinking stars in the black abyss above. It’s an incredibly visual record, and though it shares little with post-rock or classical music, it does share that quality.

Silkidrangar is arguably a more synthetic affair compared to their premiere foray. Brandishing an oomph-ier wealth of electronics and e-methods, the trio evolve, if only slightly, focusing on and exploring in greater detail, the ins ‘n’ outs of dance music. It’s not overt uhn-tiss tech-house or the subtle ebb of bro-step, but they utilise beats and feral undergrowth that wouldn’t be out of place on a Laurel Halo, Maya Jane Coles or Jon Hopkins record. We hear sampled vox hacked apart during the swirling maelstrom of “Tíbrá”, which skirts lilting rhythms and hip-hop percussion, and we glimpse Orbital’s influence on “Máninn og bróðir hans”. It’s avante-garde, cinematic dance, not blueprinted to be injected into dancefloors, but to induce trancelike states and lull your whirring brain into a hypnotic, susceptible mush.

It’s not entirely future-glancing however. Steinþórsson’s production does hark back to the ‘90s in shadowy ninjaesque ways, via Aphex Twin’s cataclysmic robo-experiments and Bristol’s most exalted output, trip-hop. Like Lamb or Massive Attack/Portishead, Samaris’ sound is a sultry concoction of chewed-up rhythmic hoodoo and the intensely visual synths – the most vivid example is on lead single, “Ég vildi fegin verða”. These trajectories were hinted at on Samaris, but only on Silkidrangar does the band explore them with gusto.

The Icelandic three-piece erupted with daisy-cutter force in 2013 with Samaris, and now they’re poised to do so again, less than a year later, with their illustrious second chapter, Silkidrangar. There’s few things that elicit such visceral reactions from us, but when Samaris haul us to their fortress of solitude with these arcane arts, we can’t help but be reduced to awestruck piles of glazed-eye gibbering.

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