Search The Line of Best Fit
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All magic is possible: Samaris live in London

07 May 2015, 17:24 | Written by Amelia Maher

If you were anywhere else in London, you would have mistaken this for just a normal Tuesday evening (5th May). Yet, as Icelandic electronic act Samaris take to the stage, there’s a magical feeling that encompasses this intimate venue, as Oslo in Hackney is transformed into a den of luminous beats, where all magic is possible and all worries are to be forgotten.

Both vocalist Jófríður Ákadóttir and clarinet player Áslaug Brún Magnúsdóttir take to the stage adorned in exquisite white lace. There’s something ritualistic, almost paganistic about their appearance as they fall into a hypnotic, meditative state as the music takes over. Magnúsdóttir clutches her clarinet close to her chest while Ákadóttir closes her eyes and dances elegantly in time. Both appear completely at peace.

The band, formed back in 2011, bring a slick and immersive infusion of beats, 19th century Icelandic poetry and stripped back electronica to the table, and are about to release Silkidrangar Sessions, a reworking companion to last year’s album which attempts to capture the magic of their live performance.

“This next song is about looking up into the sky at night, and realising how small we are on this planet and how huge the universe is” explains Ákadóttir before launching into “Brennur Stjarna”, a song which translates as ‘burning star’ and lives up to its ambitious subject matter as it bleeds with the hauntingly beautiful tones of the clarinet and Ákadóttir’s atmospheric vocals enrich every layer. It sounds expansive, all-consuming and utterly beautiful in a way that feels nothing short of extra-terrestrial in its execution. Yet, it’s when the bass kicks in that it explodes into a new life; it’s so strong, it plunges into the crowd, rattling the glass at the bar and jolting right into the very heart of everybody in the room. We’re all washed over by an enchanting spell.

Fine though they are on record, “Tíbrá” and “Nótt” have a real wonderment about them when played live. Magnúsdóttir and Ákadóttir have a bewitching power that frequently leaves the crowd silent; it is the way that the two women, as well as electronic whizzkid Þórður Kári Steinþórsson, work as one, moving with the enigmatic arrangements and completely indulging themselves in the immersive and rich tapestry of the soothing layers.

In many ways, the set is like being forced in meditation, so hypnotic are Ákadóttir’s airy vocals and it brings about a truly effortless beauty to the songs. “Ég Vildi Fegin Verōa” taken from last year’s fantastic Silkidrangar, was particularly astounding in its delivery. It is one of those brilliant moments where the language barrier between the crowd and the band brings about no kind of confusion or problem, and instead the music and the actual depth of the layers and arrangements do all the talking and bring everything closer together. It is simply a joy to watch, and as the set develops, the meditative trance deepens, making it an invigorating, refreshing experience for everyone.

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