“Geyser – Anthology of the Icelandic Independent Music Scene of the Eighties”

If you want to check out the Icelandic punk/new wave scene from the early 1980s, and get exposure to as many bands as possible, you really have two primary choices:  the Northern Lights Playhouse and Geyser compilations.  Of the two, Geyser appears the most available, and has the added bonus of having the greater number of bands featured (11 in all).  Northern Lights Playhouse features more songs, but less bands with only six… though four of these do not appear on Geyser, so in a perfect world you’d have both.  However, with Norther Lights Playhouse costing $60+ on vinyl compared to maybe $10 for Geyser (or cheaper), the later is the overall winner.  Northern Lights Playhouse does get points, however, for being available on the Icelandair music channel on their flights… or at least it was this summer.  Good work Icelandair!  Pretty gutsy for an airline.

I find it ironic that the subtitle of this album indicates it is an anthology of the “Icelandic Independent Music Scene”.  As if there is really a music scene in Iceland that isn’t independent.

Most of the classic Icelandic punk and new wave bands are here.  Theyr, Purrkur Pillnikk, Bubbi & Das Kapital, Vonbrigdi… even the Bjork/Einar Orn project KUKL.  Two of the tracks are previously unreleased elsewhere.  As an added bonus the reverse of the album cover also includes 12 paragraphs on the bands featured.  Geyser was created in 1987 for release outside of Iceland, intended to draw attention to the Icelandic music scene.

Perhaps the most intriguing track on the album is “Edda” by Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson, described as “a farmer and the official head of the heathen sect of Asatru”.  What he does isn’t what we today think of as music.  Instead it’s the Icelandic style of poetry chanting.  It’s haunting and soulful.

Your introduction to Icelandic music awaits!  Get some!


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