Daði Freyr – “Næsta Skref” 10″ (2018)

dadifreyrI like some of Daði Freyr’s previous projects, the dark-wave RetRoBot and the more synth-pop Mixophrygian, so picking up this five-song solo 10″ was a no-brainer.

The record opens with the retro-synth-infused “Forspil”, a jam that combines 1970s dream synths a la Tangerine Dream with a sort of deliberate early new wave that leans a bit towards post-punk, a strange and compelling blend of light and dark.  “Allt Í Einu” gives us our first taste of Freyr’s vocals and I’m transformed right back to seeing RetRoBot on stage almost a decade ago, though musically it’s smoother and brighter than what that band was doing.  Both side A songs feel like modern twists to 1970s AM radio, and I mean that in the best way possible.

The flip side opens with the title track “Næsta Skref”, and this might be taking us even a little further back in time to when Crosby, Stills & Nash were topping the charts.  The synths maintain that smooth feel while Freyr’s voice takes me into the past.  I’m not sure if it’s purely effects driven or if there is some actually harmony happening here, but whatever it is gives his vocals a beautiful quality.  “Innan Frá” is more an homage to the old RetRoBot days – it would have felt right at home on that band’s CD, bumping beats, poppy synths, and a slightly dark edge.  It’s my pick for the track of the album.  Things close out with “Takk”, a tantalizing and all-too-quick dose of electro-disco that will leave you wanting more.

Næsta Skref is a great record from start to finish, and I’m going to need to keep Daði Freyr on my radar to see what other gems he puts out in the future.

Mixophrygian – “Mixophrygian” (2015)

I know, I know… I’m supposed to care about the music that’s on the record, not the jacket.  But how often do you stop and check something out because the jacket catches your eye?  It happens to me all the damn time.  I’m sure that means that I miss some cool stuff, but it also gets me to at least look into a lot of bands that I otherwise might not consider.

mixophrygian

Just look at this jacket.  Look at it.  Of course I had to know what this is about.

What Mixophrygian is about is one Mr. Daði Freyr Pétursson, a synth-pop producer from Iceland putting out a solo release.  And to quote Barry in High Fidelity, “It’s really… it’s really fucking good.”

Mixophrygian prompted me to place an order with my friends at Reykjavik’s Lucky Records, because there’s pretty much no way I was going to find this limited edition (of 300) double album here in Seattle.  The gatefold packaging is exceptional, as is the translucent purple vinyl, clean and bright.

There are a lot of high points on Mixophrygian, the first of which is “Forever” with the beautiful vocal by Arna Lára Pétursdóttir accompanying Pétursson’s own creamy voice.  From there it just gets even better, with all three songs on side B (“New Year,” “The Love,” the very Daft Punk-esque “Me, Myself and You,” and “Phrases”) giving you a full dose of groovy synth-pop, with simple beats and more of that smooth singing, nothing super fancy here, just… just right.

On the start of side C, I’m pretty sure The Chipmunks snuck in for a few verses on “Disconnected,” but you know what?  It works in its own way.  And you know, now that I think of it, the vocals remind me a little of another Icelandic synth-pop band called RetRoBot who put out one six-song CD back in 2012… which turned out, once I did some looking online, to be for a very good reason – because Daði was a member of that band, contributing synths and some vocals.  The only reason I think I was able to put those pieces together was because I literally just happened to listen to RetRoBot’s album Blackout the other day on my iPod.  Why?  I don’t know.  Just one of those weird deals.  Thought I did just kind of trip myself out there a bit.  This project is a bit more mellow and not quite as dark as the RetRoBot material, something a bit easier to just chill to.

Mixophrygian is some great soothing synth pop.  But don’t take my word for it.  You can listen to the whole thing for free on Bandcamp right HERE, so go give it a least and see (and more importantly hear) for yourself.