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Iceland Airwaves: Wednesday's Picks

01 November 2012, 14:55 | Written by The Line of Best Fit

Photograph by Sebastien Dehesdin

We arrived in Reykjavik yesterday for the first taste of wind-chill, Icelandic beer and of course Airwaves Festival. In and amongst getting to grips with this beautiful city by night we managed to see a whole host of acts and have picked our own individual Wednesday highlights.

Pascal Pinon

Pascal Pinon are twin sisters Jófríður and Ásthildur and take their name from a Mexican circus performer with two heads (the second was actually a tumour, unsurprsingly). They open a night of incredible Icelandic talent at Iðnó, a 19th-century stately house by a small lake in central Reykjavik.

Mixing both English and Icelandic language songs, there’s something special at work here – it’s too melancholy to be twee, too serious to be cutesy, despite evidence to the contrary (they trot out two younger family members as backup at one point). Fans of Warpaint would find something to like here – in their darker moments the sisters’ vocal arrangements share a reference point but ultimately these are solid songs, especially the newer tracks from their second record, due soon over in the UK.

Photograph by Sebastien Dehesdin


The grandiose, classic ballroom setting of Iðnó provides the perfect home for Reykjavík native Sóley’s sumptuous compositions tonight. A packed audience has made its way to the waterside venue to witness an evening of music hosted by German label Morr Music, and if the length of the queue snaking around the block is anything to go by, it’s certainly the hottest ticket of the evening.

Taking to the stage to anticipatory applause, Sóley wastes no time in setting about enchanting the audience with the delicate, majestic songs that have made her one of Iceland’s most sought after artists. Combining dynamic piano melodies with soft, spacious vocals and the most genteel ‘beat-boxing’ we’ve ever come across, Sóley works her way through a poignant, if at times endearingly ramshackle set presenting tracks from 2011′s We Sink as well as a few glimpses of new compositions. Picking up a guitar to unveil the lilting melody of ‘Smashed Birds’, the room falls silent, the audience transfixed by petite chanteuse’s every move and utterance. And when she sets about charming the crowd with her comic mix of Icelandic and English during the inter-song chatter, it’s easy to see why Sóley is widely credited as Iceland’s fastest rising starlet.

Photograph by Sebastien Dehesdin


In one of those brilliantly unplanned moments we stumbled into Deutsche Bar to catch surprise evening highlight HighasaKite. The Norwegian trio appear face-painted to the nines, jittering around the stage melding a hint of twee folk into their delicate yet dramatic instrumental creations. Rumbling with the intensity of Lykke Li’s recent output and swimming in the kind of understated funk that Friends revel in, Ingrid Helene Håvik, Trond Bersu and Øystein Skar find themselves occupying this warm, blissful naïve pop space.

Photograph by Sebastien Dehesdin

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