Icelander and electro-weaver Futuregrapher is at it again, this time with the three-song suite called July 1. Written during a stay in Poland, the vibe is guided by his roots in Patreksfjörður and Tálknafjörður, creating soundscapes that combine a pulsing bass heartbeat with an overall sense of desolation, of broad unpopulated expanses covered in green moss and wiped clean by the ever-present wind.
“Láginúpur” is a particularly captivating piece, a blending of a quiet conversation in Icelandic and sort of retro-futuristic soundscape. There’s something about the Icelandic language, a certain pattern to it, that I find intriguing, and Futuregrapher captures that sensation here. The other two pieces are purely electronic affairs, both with quiet, pulsing beats that offer structure while not being distracting, allowing the higher register the more prominent position. This is perfect music to chill to.
Primarily a digital release, July 1 did receive an ultra-limited vinyl pressing (lathe cutting is probably more accurate…) of just 30 copies in a 10″ format. A physical copy will probably be hard if not impossible to track down, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still go to Bandcamp and give it a listen HERE.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of the 2017 Malneirophrenia remixes record M-Theory – only 35 copies of this lathe-cut 12″ were made, each individually numbered, so it’s not an easy one to track down. The band has been around for a while, putting out their first release M back in 2011, but somehow I’ve completely missed them over the years – I’d never even heard of them until this arrived in the mail. They described their debut as “M is a mixture of metal, classical music and imaginary soundtracks. It is chamber punk.” Chamber punk. If if that doesn’t sound interesting, I don’t know what does.
My lack of familiarity with he originals means I have limited context for the remixes, with only what I know of the artists doing the remixes to go by. Futuregrapher and Lord Pusswhip both make contributions, as does Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, who is best known for his work as part of Stilluppsteypa. Pusswhip in particular gives me what I’ve come to expect from his royal highness, something languidly trippy. Sigmarsson’s track, “I Am The Cello”, runs 19+ minutes and consumes the entire B side and is a bit of a surprise, lacking the experimentalism I’ve come to associate with his music (OK, maybe there’s a bit on the second half of the song). The overall feel of the base tracks is classical, with the remixes primarily adding nuance, though Pusswhip makes sure to keep things a bit weird on his.
The three A side songs can be heard on Bandcamp HERE if you want to give them a listen.
Futuregrapher’s electronic is, to my ears, challenging. Challenging in that it doesn’t easily fit into any clear-cut style that I understand. It’s not EDM. It’s not ambient. Yet it has some qualities found in each. He includes the BPMs in the titles of each of the eight tracks on his newest release, Hrafnagil, but I’m not sure why because they don’t vary much (low of 116, high of 129), and this isn’t exactly music designed to fill the dance floor. What it does feel designed for, however, is filling my glass full of whiskey, dropping in the hugest ice cube I can possibly make, and sinking into the sofa with a massive sigh while I rest the glass on my stomach, gently keeping it from spilling all over my shorts by the application of the minimal amount of finger pressure.
Which is exactly what I need tonight.
This cassette came to me in my recent package from Reykjavik’s Lucky Records, and it was one of the items I specifically requested. Holly is a big fan of Futuregrapher, and I enjoy his stuff as well, because it’s music that forces me to pay attention to it. His compositions don’t follow the standard (or even the standard non-standard) formats, nor do they wander off as aimlessly as those of Beatmakin Troopa, instead falling into a sweet spot that provides your synapses with musical patterns that, then reconfiguring them in bizarre and unexpected ways that don’t allow you to just drop off into a daze. I’d call it the thinking man’s electronica, but that would sound trite and pretentious (more on my part as a lazy writer than on the part of the musician).
It’s hard to pick favorites on an album like Hrafnagil, but if forced to choose I’d go with “Móatún (129 bpm),” a moderately uptempo but still chill number that really grooves. You can sample the whole thing, as well as buy downloads and/or physical media HERE, and if you’re into both Eno and 808 State I think you’re going to find something to grab onto here. But be careful, because Futuregrapher might just slip through your fingers…
Eitt is one of those albums that’s pretty much impossible for me to write about. It has a minimalistic, ambient classical sound comprised of a quiet piano and some ambient electronics is soothing and beautiful, but it’s difficult for me to say more than that. I don’t have the musical vocabulary to intelligently discuss what Ólafsson is doing on the piano, and the minimalness of Futuregrapher’s electronics are quite different from what I’m used to hearing from him. The album cover image is a fitting one – if there’s one thing this music reminds me of, it’s a very early morning, just as the sun is getting ready to come up, near some still waters. It’s quiet music for quiet times.
In 2014 Futuregrapher (aka Árni Grétar Jóhannesson) did one of the more unusual sets we’ve seen at Iceland Airwaves over the years. It was an off-venue show at a large bookstore, and he combined both an electronic music set and a reading from an Icelandic book, which if memory serves was something either history or nature related (probably both). You can see him below working his magic. There were probably a good 50 people or so packed into that upstairs space, including a few children who were listening with their parent. You never know what you’ll get at Airwaves.
Copyright 2014 – Life in the Vinyl Lane
I think LP was released only as a download and cassette, not appearing on CD or vinyl (ironic give the album’s name). I’m think I found this over at Lucky Records, but can’t remember for sure. Anyway… Futuregrapher has a beautiful style of electronic music, one that incorporates jazz and ambient-like elements. It’s not ambient in that very still, quiet, Brian Eno kind of way, but more in that you’re not getting jarred with sudden changes to beats or sounds within the songs. His music has flow, that mystical and elusive quality that keeps song elements connected as they travel through time.
But don’t be fooled. This isn’t all slow and groovy. Futuregrapher can pick up the pace and hit you with some very high BPMs. But this isn’t the low bass kind of dance beat… more like a hi-hat. He also goes off into some experimental spaces, most notably in the politically charged “Think (feat. Guðjón Heiðar),” which is my favorite song on LP. In fact, it even has a music video that you can watch HERE.
Futuregrapher had been on Holly’s “must see” list for a while before we finally caught up with him last year, and we found list live set unique and interesting. We’ll certainly be on the lookout for his name again this year when the Airwaves ’15 schedule comes out.