Friday, March 2, 2012

Skurken "Gilsbakki "

In September 2011 the Icelandic based Moller records released Skurkens Debut album "Gilsbakki", after the first listen I was yet again left speechless by Iceland's electronic music output.

Skurken AKA Jóhann Ómarsson is also one half of Sk/um along with Þorsteinn Konráð Ólafsson AKA Prince Valium who released the beautiful "I Þágu Fallsins" album back in 2003.

Some of the many highlights from "Gilsbakki" include:

The opener "Romer" is a rather melancholic piano composition that sits tastefully with some minimal downtempo electronic grooves and the addition of some very emotive chord changes gives you a sense of the beautiful environment which it was created in.

"Rafting" follows up wonderfully as it continues to wrap you in comforting warm keys, some electro like drum and bass grooves kick in and a melodic growling bassline gives the track some solid presence, again plenty of changes in key and infectious melodic bliss displays Johann's heartfelt compositional skills.

"Dircuits" effortlessly blends IDM beats dark vibes, guitar with melodic acidic lines, almost sounding like Plaid jamming with French easy listening duo
Air. Next we have the beautiful but short fantasy piece "Welschmerz sumar" which certainly wouldn’t sound of place on the Donny Darko soundrack or the latest Tim Burton epic.

"Kannaski" introduces a haunting soundscape with poly rhythmic grooves which transform into more acidic loveliness and smooth key lines, the introduction of some strumming guitar chords adds an emotive folk feel and then we are taken away on layers of heavenly synth arps, possibly the finest moment on the album ?

"Bistisbo" is another beauty with its comforting lullaby vibes and soaring strings and rather low slung bass mixed with some Boards Of Canada influences. Track eleven "Utvortis" is another contender for the best track on the album, which mixes a beautiful cello section and warm melodic electronics along with what sounds like R2D2 conversing in the background.

The final track "Uppaslir" leaves us with an epic uplifting futuristic ambient vibe with an almost Vangelis meets BOC feel.

Over all the album has an incredible sense of emotion which at times is very melancholic and uplifting and there's enough diversity and experimentalism to keep the hardcore IDM fans happy, while there are plenty of moments where many of his influences are clearly evident from AFX to orbital etc, but "Gilsbakki " never loses its strong sonic identity.

Essential listening for fans of Plaid, Aphex Twin, Kettel etc..


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