Empire is exactly what I needed on a gray morning. I took the day before Thanksgiving off in an attempt to recover just a little from a grueling work schedule that will only get more intense over the next few weeks, but I still found myself spending an hour unraveling emails this morning and I have to jump on a conference call later. Such is the “day off” sometimes. I need something to chill out the mental burn, and Muted’s chillwave is certainly helping.
Muted is Icelander Bjarni Rafn Kjartansson, who currently lives and works in Germany like so many other electronic musicians from his homeland. One of these days I need to get over to Berlin and do some record shopping. Anyway… the vibe I get from Empire is something more upbeat than ambient, but more chill than house, a nice sweet spot that pumps enough energy into the room to act as the soundtrack to either hanging out or getting stuff done. “Vogue” has a pulsing low beat that’s near perfect, not to fast, not too slow, and ideal for my mood right now.
Six of Empire‘s ten tracks are instrumental, while the remaining four feature different female vocalists who also hail from Iceland, most notably Jófríður Ákadóttir (a.k.a. JFDR) and one of my favorites, DJ Flugvél Og Geimskip. The vocals stay within the general feel of the album, subtle and swaying, well integrated with the music. “Undraveröld ft. dj. flugvél og geimskip” probably stands out the furthest from the rest of the album, due in part to Flugvél’s unique style and the use of bird sounds, giving the whole thing a bit of out-in-nature whimsey.
Empire is available on the Muted Bandcamp page HERE, and it looks like you can still order the limited edition (of 150) vinyl as well.