Invariably there are surprises at Iceland Airwaves. You go to a venue because a couple of bands you want to see are scheduled to play, and you end up seeing some acts you’d never heard of before. That’s how we came upon DJ Flugvél Og Geimskip on the festival’s first day last year. We wanted to see the first two and last two bands at Húrra that night, so figured we’d just camp out there. And right in the middle was DJ Flugvél, aka Steinunn Eldflaug Harðardóttir.
DJ Flugvél’s set was, simply put, captivating.
Her music came with a story, a journey through space and time, that she walked us through as her set progressed. I don’t remember the details, but cats and snakes were involved. And magical things. And cats.
She was so earnest, and having so much fun with the story and music, that you couldn’t help but get caught up in the whole experience with her. So I made sure to buy a copy of her 2013 CD Glamúr Í Geimnum (“Glam Space” according to Google Translate) the next day.
The one challenge with the album is that it’s all sung in Icelandic… so without Harðardóttir walking you through the story in English, it doesn’t have quite the same impact. But here’s the thing. It’s still interesting as hell. Musically it’s quirky – there are definitely elements of J-POP and Persian sounds throughout the album, much of it spacey and sort of psychedelic. There are 70s horror movie sounds mixed with 60s space movie sounds. Vocally she’s a trippy blend of Estonian singer Iiris and a young Björk, sometimes singing, sometimes talking. Sometimes she sounds like an adult, other times like a child. But there’s always a passion in her voice, and often a playfulness that makes it compelling.
Now, let’s be clear here just in case the above didn’t fully convey my impressions of Glamúr Í Geimnum – this is an unusual album. And that’s a good thing, because the last thing any of us needs is another generic rock record. And DJ Flugvél is not generic. Did I mention the cats? Because they’re on “Ráðabrugg Villikattanna.” At 25 minutes it’s relatively brief, but that’s OK because Harðardóttir packs a lot onto the disc. If I could recommend just one track for you to listen to it would be “Trommuþrællinn,” with its heavily modulated vocals and catchy cadence.
Thank god there are people out there like DJ Flugvél. They make the world a more interesting place.