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ÖLVIS – The Blue Sound (Resonant)

Posted: September 26th, 2005, by Alex McChesney

What is it with Iceland? You can blame the unending winter nights, glaciers and treelessness all you like, but it’s still hard to credit a single place with producing such consistently otherworldly music. Where, for example, are the Icelandic skate-punks, boybands, and insipid R’n’B divas? It’s an odd state of affairs, but not one to complain about, as long as they keep giving us artists like Ölvis.

Based on the evidence of this, his second album, Ölvis (aka Orlygur Thor Orlygsson) seems less self-conscious than some of his peers, and perhaps a little less fearful of referencing more traditional folk and rock forms without first distorting them beyond recognition. There is little in the way of gibberish wailing, and effects are employed with sensitivity, rather than smothering the music to death in a ham-fisted attempt at creating atmosphere. There’s not much electronic twiddling either, save some minimal organ sounds. Where the likes of Sigur Ros (some members of which guest on this album) pretend to be ghosts, the music on this record seems very much of this Earth. Or, at least, a slightly out-of-focus Earth, endlessly looping the sun with a melancholy inevitability, expressed in psychedelic lounge-folk music.

If there is criticism to be leveled, it is that there’s very little variation to be had over The Blue Sound‘s eleven tracks. It’s perhaps best to take it as a single, lengthy piece, divided into sections that are easily digested on their own, should the mood take you, rather than impose upon it high expectations of excitement. Once you’ve sampled the first couple of tunes, you should have a reasonable grasp of what the rest of the album is going to be like, and whether it is, or is not, for you. However, to these ears, at least, it’s gently refreshing, and I would urge you to try it on your own.


Alex McChesney

Alex was brought up by a family of stupid looking monkeys after being lost in the deep jungles of Paisley. Teaching him all their secret conga skills (as well as how to throw barrels at plumbers), Alex was able to leave for the bright lights of Glasgow where adventure struck him and he needed all his conga skills to save the world and earn the hand of a lovely Texan princess. He now keeps a low profile alphabeticising his record collection and making sock monkeys in the likenesses of his long lost family.


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