I can’t recall how this came up on my radar last year, but somehow it did an for that I’m grateful. If you’ve read even just a few posts on Life in the Vinyl Lane you know that I buy and review tons of Icelandic releases, both old and new, and I have a strange infatuation with the islands musical history. What DJ Paturn gives us on Breaking the Ice is a 90-minute DJ set culled from 80+ vintage Icelandic recordings, much of which he was exposed to via his father, radio host Magnus Thordarson. Sonically the music is all over the board – funk, rock, psych, disco, folk, children’s… you name it, it’s probably on here somewhere. I only wish there were credits included so I could get a better sense of what’s included – I suspect I have more than a few of these records in my collection, but haven’t played them enough to put two and two together (the one thing that sounded familiar was something with a very Icecross vibe). The vocals are both in English and Icelandic, but really they aren’t the focus; this thing is more about the feel, and Platurn does a great job in blending disparate songs and styles in a way that’s seamless.
Breaking the Ice was originally released as a 2XDC packaged inside a 14-page hardback book that includes a background on Platurn’s father and his role in opening up Icelandic radio to outside influences in the 1970s. Per the label website the initial pressing of 1,000 copies is sold out. However, DJ Platurn still has a handful available on his Bandcamp page HERE, and they come with a bonus cassette single, so get a copy while you can, because at $15 it’s a steal. If you’ve ever wanted to get a general sense of Icelandic music from the 1960s and 70s, this is a perfect place to start.
Following my successful Atari Punk Console build I had so much confidence that I wanted to tackle a second Rakit DIY synth kit immediately. After all, I was clearly on a roll and my soldering game was on point. So I decided to go with what looked like the next easiest kit, the Disintegrated Cracklebox.
My confidence lasted for as long as it took me to lay out all of the individual parts (see below). Man there’s a lot of stuff in this bag! Sixteen resistors… shoot, the APC didn’t even have 16 total parts! And all those different resistor values to differentiate using the tiny color striping had be a bit worried. Throw in 19 capacitors and a handful of other parts and it was clear that I had a lot of soldering in front of me. Fortunately the online instructions were very detailed and I’d learned a few lessons in the APC build about the importance of staying organized in how the pieces were installed. Even with all that prep, though, I still managed to fill a hole I wasn’t working on with solder which required some MacGuyver-ing to resolve, but I managed to get it sorted.
I’m not entirely sure how long this build took – probably somewhere around 60-90 minutes. But it fired up right away and I was crackling like a fool. The Cracklebox is an interesting item – you need to use both hands on it to complete the circuit and create sound, and how you interact with the touch pads creates the sonic variance. You can rest a finger in one spot, or tap to create a sort of beat, or rub across the surface to make a sort of electro-scratching sound. There were some combinations that made noise and others that didn’t – I’ll have to play with this a bit more to understand precisely how to use it.
This kit was more intricate than the APC, but honestly wasn’t any more difficult – it just took more time and patience and maybe a bit more care since those holes are all so close together. Remember kids, keep the tip of that soldering iron clean as you progress so you don’t drip a molten metal plug where you don’t want one!
So far I’ve been happy with the kits from Rakit (if you’re interested in checking them out for yourself, you can do so HERE). It’s a few bucks more expensive than the APC, somewhere around $20-25 US, but there’s also quite a bit more to it. I’m intrigued to see if/how I can use this with some of their other pieces.