Reykjavik Refelctions

Well, we’re back home after a whirlwind five day trip to Reykjavik.  Frankly things couldn’t have gone any smoother – from having a parking space right next to our apartment, to sun every day, and to it taking less than 45 minute from wheels down in Seattle to being behind the wheel of our car, it was nearly a perfect trip.  And the best part is we get to go back in just over six months for our fifth Iceland Airwaves!

People often ask why we keep going back to the same place year after year.  Music festival aside, there’s just something about Reykjavik, and Iceland in general.  It’s easy to get around.  The people are nice (and pretty much everyone speaks English).  You don’t feel like you have to constantly keep an eye on your stuff or worry if you’re standing around on the sidewalk looking at a map.  It’s a city with a great vibe, one you feel like you can wrap your arms around and start to understand quickly.  It’s kind of like being home.

Every trip to Reykjavik has involved us spending time with friends from home.  Just before our first visit in 2005 we found out our friend DC was going to be there at the same time – his last day in Reykjavik was the day we arrived, so we got to hook up for beers.  Norberto was our companion for our next four visits from 2009-2012, all for Airwaves, and he’s coming with us again in the fall.  We got to show Tristen the town during his first visit last year, and did the same with Holly’s mom this time around.  It’s crazy when I think about it.

But enough of that.  This is a music blog, and our Iceland experience can’t be separated from tunes.  Last year at Airwaves I went pretty crazy, coming home with 29 records and 15 CDs, which is admittedly ridiculous.  I had absolutely no intention going into this trip of “beating” those numbers (I swear it’s true, though I doubt Holly is buying it).  There was no question I was doing some record shopping.  I mean, let’s be real – I had six records on hold at Lucky two months before our trip.  But when I tallied everything up today (after cleaning more records in one session than I’ve probably ever done before), I counted 32 records and 16 CDs.  Now, to be fair, I got a few of these for free.  And had I not gotten a random email from Dr. Gunni asking if I wanted to look at some of the records he had for sale I wouldn’t have “topped” last years totals.  But still.  I doubt I’ll come near those figures at Airwaves 2013… because I already have so much stuff there isn’t as much out there that I want!

Talking to Dr. Gunni was interesting.  As I mentioned previously, we’d both just finished reading the book Retromania.  For Gunni this was a sort of wake up call that he really didn’t need all his vinyl any more, that it was more about that feeling of possessing something tangible than it was about the music, most of which is widely available in more convenient electronic formats.  Gunni for one isn’t buying the argument that vinyl is a superior sound quality format, noting that “I’m playing it on the same shitty stereo I bought in 1993,” which is a solid point – unless you’re running high end equipment (and mine is nice, but hardly high end by audiophile standards) AND you have a great ear, you probably can’t tell the difference between a superior format and a lesser one, and of those who can hear the slight differences, many just don’t care.  My response to Retromania was to try to not get caught up in “collecting” records – if I already have it in another format I’m not buying the vinyl, and at least with the Icelandic stuff I’ve been buying, a good portion of it isn’t available in any other format.  Or at least that’s my excuse.  And I’m sticking to it.

So now everything I brought home from Iceland is cleaned and organized.  I already listened to four of the CDs today – Muck’s Slaves, Skálmöld’s Baldur, Oyama’s I Wanna, and PPpönk’s great punk PP.ep, all of which merit their own future blog posts.  And the records… the records.  I picked up so much good stuff this trip that I can’t wait to dig into it.  It’ll probably take a few months, but I think I’m up to the challenge.

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