Icelandic trio Samaris formed in Reykjavik in 2011 and created atmospheric, electronic-influenced music layered with percussive beats and singer Jófrídur Ákadóttir's haunting vocals. Their sound was completed by Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir on the clarinet and Þórður Kári Steinþórsson's rich, textured arrangements. Their otherworldly music was influenced by their lyrics, which were taken from 19th century Icelandic poems and inspired the mesmerizing, chant-like melodies that Jófrídur employed. The band began to play shows in Reykjavik and wore costumes to their live performances to help secure gigs, but it was soon clear that it was their music that was drawing the crowds, illustrated when they won the 2011 Icelandic Músíktilraunir competition. They soon entered the studio and released two EPs, Hljóma Þú in 2011 and 2012's Stofnar Falla, which was recorded at Sigur Rós' Sundlaugin studio with Gunnar Tynes of múm. The following year they caught the attention of One Little Indian, who signed them and compiled their two EPs to form their eponymous debut album, which was widely praised. They went on to play a host of European shows and festivals that year, including appearances at Sonar, Berlin Music Week, and Reykjavik's Iceland Airwaves. Following their heavy touring schedule, they took a brief hiatus while Áslaug departed on a long planned trip around the world, but they regrouped in the New Year to perform at the Sydney Festival. Their first full-length record and second release, Silkidrangar, was due for release in 2014.
© Scott Kerr /TiVo
© Scott Kerr /TiVo
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Electronic - Released June 10, 2016 | One Little Independent Records
"Arguably their most accessible to date, something brought about by both a switch from Icelandic to English, and an apparent glossing over of their once-fractured electronica, it retains all of the icy, idiosyncratic beauty of their previous releases..." © TiVo
Electronic - Released May 5, 2014 | One Little Independent Records
The sparse and atmospheric nature of Samaris' sophomore album Silkidrangar lends itself beautifully to the mystical and fantastical nature of the three musicians behind its haunting and at times hypnotic, beat-driven sound. The trio are no doubt heavily inspired by the rugged and enchanting landscape of their homeland, Iceland, and equally inspired by the wealth of musical talent the country has produced. Samaris themselves, however, don't fall easily into categories, intertwining Þórður Kári Steinþórsson's percussive electronic beats and minimal synth-led melodies, with Jófríður Ákadóttir's ethereal and Björk-inspired breathy vocals; they are a creative force of their own. Their most intriguing and unusual element, however, is provided by Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir's use of the clarinet. The instrument is unobtrusive, but deftly used to eerie effect, offsetting the modern, harsh electronics and instilling a haunting and natural tone to the otherwise dense, bass-led synths and bleeps. Although the album is sung entirely in their native tongue, the barrier to non-speakers is lessened in the knowledge that the lyrics are taken from 19th century Icelandic poetry, and Ákadóttir’s delivery, alongside the words' natural melody, intrigue with an almost mythical quality on "Ég Vildi Fegin Verða" and "Tíbrá." The captivating, chant-like vocals are aided by clever production, which includes plenty of reverb, delay, multi-tracking and, most importantly to Samaris' sound, the unnerving down-tuned vocal that often accompanies Ákadóttir's mesmerizing voice. Also, the contemplative and expansive nature of Silkidrangar is shaped by Þórður Kári Steinþórsson's textured arrangements that evolve into the eerie and moody soundscapes which underpin and carry the musical direction of the record. Despite already releasing their self-titled debut, made up of two domestically released EPs, Silkidrangar feels far more cohesive, if a little darker at times, and has expanded their distinctive sound that in many ways reflects the bleak and beautiful nature that surrounds them. © Scott Kerr /TiVo
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