I’m completely and totally intrigued by Steinunn Eldflaug Harðardóttir, aka dj. flugvél go geimskip (translation – DJ Airplane and Spaceship). Her quirky live performances include lots of lights, lengthy stories about cats in outer space, and a set-closing audience participation segment in which we’re all told we have to do karate chops in order to get back to planet earth (♠). However, her music definitely isn’t for everyone and I’m pretty sure that I was the only one in our Airwaves crew last year that was way into her stuff.
Steinunn collaborates with a number of other artists, perhaps most notably the one-and-only Dr. Gunni. She also plays bass and sings in a psych rock band called Skelkur í Bringu who we saw on opening night of Airwaves at, of all places, the Hard Rock Cafe in Reykjavik (♣), and I was spellbound both by the music and the visual performance. At the end of the show she had cassette copies of the band’s new live album Þrífðu Þetta Hland for sale, each in an individually crafted and decorated case (yes, that’s zebra pattern fabric on mine…), so I of course plunked down my kronur for a copy.
Þrífðu Þetta Hland is a full-on psych trip, weirdly reminiscent of a slightly more structured version of Les Rallizes Dénudés. Steinunn’s vocals retain the high-pitched, spacey quality she uses to such great effect in her solo work, not so much floating on top of the music but instead piercing it like stainless steel spikes. Sometimes the band wanders about in a trippy soundscape, but at others they break free into weirder territory. “Símanúmerið Hans Sigga” is pure punk rock at its core, while “Say No to Science” starts like a deranged surf tune before devolving into sludge metal. You never know what you’re going to get from one song to the next with Skelkur í Bringu. If you’re only going to listen to one song, though, make it “Dýragarður”, which is the best synthesis of all the band’s sonic elements wrapped up into one near-perfect tune.
While the video below wasn’t shot at the performance we attended, it was done just a few days prior by our friends over at KEXP and is pretty damn cool, plus it’ll give you a sense of their live vibe. You can also listen to the album itself HERE, as well as buy the digital download for any amount you want to give the band – you can literally get it for a buck if you want, so help support indie music!
(♠) Asking people to do karate chops in a packed club should be a recipe for disaster. And in anywhere other than Iceland it probably would be. But somehow it happens and no fights break out.
(♣) That a city with as strong a small-club music scene as Reykjavik now has a Hard Rock Cafe (again… the first iteration of the HRC there went out of business around 2005) is unsettling and may be an indication that Reykjavik has jumped the shark. That being said, the basement is a pretty cool little venue.