I first came across Iceland’s Inki (Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir) last year with her jailbird song ‘Love of my life, bad guy’, in which she interviewed, to music, some of Reykjavik’s most hardened criminals. Iceland isn’t exactly known for its social conformity but that’s pushing the envelope for your art.
At the end of the last review I made of her music (for ‘Destructive Interference’ last May), it was revealed that next on the list would be a track featuring a church organ and which would include a separate intro track, featuring only the organ. Et Voilà, here we are.
Cutting a long story short (Inki’s excellent long blog posts about her songs make War & Peace look like a Post-it note) the two tracks, ‘This One For Me’ and ‘For You’, are the third and fourth singles from her forthcoming album, Thoughts Midsentence’ and the two new songs to be placed on a four song EP released on 14th July.
Even though the two singles were released separately (one on 7th July, the other on 14th July, the first as a ‘tease’ for the second), they belong together she says, and at the core of the two tracks lies the organ, “a metaphorical backdrop to the musical journey.”
The two songs relate to a break up; one that happened some time ago and not one experienced by Inki, but rather by her partner in ch(rhyme), the lyricist Anna Marsý, who is also a local journalist and has probably seen it all where Icelandic life is concerned. She’s responsible for the lyrics here too.
The driver for ‘This one for me’ was actually a ‘cheer her up’ drive which turned sour on account of Inki’s poor music selection, which only made matters worse.
The lyrics are a victim’s response to Paul Simon’s ‘Fifty ways to leave your lover’, which puts the boot on the other foot and asks why “there are no songs for the girl who’s told to leave,” and “why can’t it be you that has to leave”?
That sort of suggests the break-up was a difficult one.
There’s a great line in it that suggests the mundane distress of such matters, if that sounds sufficiently oxymoronic:
“There are no songs that tell her/How to hold her head up high/As she packs her books and underwear/The coffee cups they used to share.”
Let’s move swiftly on, or this might become ‘War & Peace 2.0.’
The organ was recorded in Lágafellskirkja church which is in Mosfellsbaer on the western fringe of Reykjavik on the road to the Haldor Laxness house and museum for those that know it. She chose it for the acoustics in the small wooden church. I said in the previous review I was hoping it might be one in the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik but beggars can’t be choosers, there’s nothing wrong with this one and as Inki says that big church organ isn’t a ‘traditional’ Icelandic one.
In the short (one minute) introductory ‘For you’ it sounds like what you’d hear introducing one of those Hammer Horror British movies from the 1950s; one in which in this instance Nosferatu jumps out at you from behind a lava rock with half an elf in his mouth. Very moody, with that sullenness rammed home by deep organ chords.
The organ is there throughout the four minute long ‘This One For Me’ as well, Inki considering it the most fitting instrument for a break up song. But apart from the outro, in which it plays out a funeral dirge, it is overwhelmed by dramatic, chaotic percussion and synthesised effects that underscore the split up tension that is there from the first bar to the last.
I continue to marvel at the fact that Inki had never sung on a song of her own until last year and the song ‘Playing with fire’, which is also on this EP. Here she uses her chest voice for melancholic effect and it is as thoroughly convincing as ever.
The song was produced by the British Producer, PALMR.
You know, I’ve written about a lot of Icelandic artists over the years. They are all very good but Inki is the one that is most at the ‘cutting edge’ right now. Can she reproduce this work live? If so I believe Iceland has another international star on its hands.
In the meantime I’ve been trying to figure out a sixth ‘way to leave your lover’ (Simon only recorded five, not 50) but the best I can come up with is “change your bedside manner, Anna.” I shouldn’t have bothered.
Up next are four new tracks, which will be released this autumn, featuring electric guitar played by local legend Pétur Ben, double bass by Birgir Steinn, and Kristófer Rodriguez Svönuson on drums. The next song will be in Icelandic.
This review was first published in Nordic Music Central – the dedicated go-to site for artists and bands from the burgeoning Nordic music scene. www.nordicmusiccentral.com
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