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Posts Tagged ‘Daníel Bjarnason

Mixtape: Dmitry Evgrafov (RUS/130701)

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Later this month sees the eagerly awaited release of Russian pianist & composer Dmitry Evgrafov’s seven-track EP, ‘The Quiet Observation’, which will be released on the prestigious FatCat imprint 130701. To coincide with its release we are delighted to share a special classical-based mixtape that  Dmitry Evgrafov has recently made.


Dmitry Evgrafov is a hugely promising and gifted young Russian pianist/composer whose music blends intimate piano with rich strings and electronics, bringing to mind the work of peers such as Goldmund, Carlos Cipa, Poppy Ackroyd or Nils Frahm. Completely self-taught, Dmitry began self-releasing his music at the age of seventeen, and in 2015 signed to FatCat’s 130701 imprint, releasing his label debut, ‘Collage’, last October. A beautifully focused and concise seven-track EP, ‘The Quiet Observation’ follows up that release and precedes a new album due next year.

A striking intimacy and delicate beauty permeates the stratosphere of luminous piano tones and minimal instrumentation of glockenspiel, strings (and two tracks played on a virtual church organ). In the same way as labelmate Resina’s singular cello works, a vivid sense of solitude and quiet bliss pours from the gorgeous modern-classical splendour.

‘The Quiet Observation’ is available on 14th October 2016 via 130701 Records.


My aim here is to give a listener a new look at the classical music. Whilst much music from that time is boring and excessive but through years my interest was to gather some compositions that are hundreds of years old but that sound really contemporary. For example, there are two compositions from Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov that were written in the 19th century but sound like a soundtrack for a good 2016 movie. There are also two of my personal reworks of classical compositions by Georges Bizet and Edward Grieg, to make them modern-day in a weird and subtle way. I have included a number of beautiful contributions from XX and XXI century composers including Arvo Part and Daniel Bjarnason as well as the orchestral rendition of Aphex Twin and two pieces from modern Russian composers — Pavel Karmanov and Valery Gavrilin.”

—Dmitry Evgrafov


0:00 Georges Bizet — Carmen (Dmitry Evgrafov’s Rework)
2:22 Edward Grieg — Funeral Song (Dmitry Evgrafov’s Rework)
4:14 Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov — Sadko. Introduction
5:44 Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov — The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh. Introduction
10:00 Hanan Townshend — Water Theme No. 3
11:50 Aphex Twin — rhubarb orc.
19.53 rev
18:10 Pavel Karmanov — Interlichkeit
24:00 Arvo Pärt — Miserere
28:52 Daníel Bjarnason — Solitudes I. Holy
31:18 Hanan Townshend — Awareness
33:04 Gabriel Faure – Cantique de Jean Racine, Op.11
38:10 Valery Gavrilin — Perezvony
42:15 Wojciech Kilar – Exodus (Excerpt No. 1)

‘The Quiet Observation’ is available on 14th October 2016 via 130701 Records.

Written by admin

October 4, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Whatever You Love You Are: Valgeir Sigurðsson

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In celebration of the prestigious Icelandic label Bedroom Community’s tenth anniversary year, we are delighted to present the first in a series of features where the artists share their musical influences, memories and most cherished recordings. First up is label co-founder Valgeir Sigurðsson.

Words: Valgeir Sigurðsson


Bedroom Community is an Icelandic record label/collective formed in 2006 by Valgeir Sigurðsson, with Nico Muhly and Ben Frost, later adding Sam Amidon, Daníel Bjarnason, Puzzle Muteson, Paul Corley, Nadia Sirota and James McVinnie to the intimate roster. 2015 saw two new additions to the family being: Emily Hall & Jodie Landau and wild Up.

Like-minded, yet diverse individuals from different corners of the globe all creatively orbit around an inconspicuous building and its inhabitants on the outskirts of Reykjavík Iceland – Greenhouse Studios – where the music is mostly created.

In celebration of the influential record label’s 10th Anniversary in 2016, members of the collective come together in a series of live performances known as the Whale Watching Tour. The inspirational tour is an unusual and ambitious premise. The artists, who are friends and colleagues, present what is more like a musical conversation with aspects of a show-and-tell than a formal concert.

The Whale Watching Tour is an opportunity to manifest what we, as a record label and a collective of disparate musical personalities, do behind the closed doors of the studio. To create something uniquely belonging to the live experience from source material that is very familiar to us. These shows are fuelled by joyful energy and appreciation for each other but also tension, blood and sweat that makes it all the more rewarding at the end of the day.”

– Valgeir Sigurðsson

Valgeir Sigurðsson, Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota, Sam Amidon, Daníel Bjarnason & Jodie Landau are going for several dates on both side of the Atlantic to keep going this Whale Watching Tour 2016, celebrating the tenth anniversary of Bedroom Community. They will also deliver during Iceland Airwaves a very special performance together with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra in Harpa, Reykjavik.

Running alongside this, though, is a commitment to releasing new music. The label has launched the Hvalreki series, a platform for inquisitive producers to group together and focus on fresh innovation. The title means ‘beach whale’ in Icelandic, and it aims to become a regular showcase for ideas that sit outside the norm. The Hvalreki series launches with material from Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurðsson. ‘Scent Opera‘ owes its origins to a project at the Guggenheim back in 2009, and it’s a lengthy, hypnotic work.

‘Scent Opera’ by Nico Muhly & Valgeir Sigurðsson is available now:

For full dates of Bedroom Community’s forthcoming Whale Watching European Tour, visit HERE

First piece of classical music you fell in love with?

Air on G string – Johann Sebastian Bach


A recording whose arrangements floored you?

Talk Talk Spirit of Eden


A masterful composition which made a huge impact on you?

Piano & String Quartet – Morton Feldman


An unforgettable live performance you have been part of?

A disastrous gig in Magdeburg on a joint tour with Ben Frost in the early days.

A defining record that led you onto your own musical path?
The Clash London Calling


Composers/records/musical voices you feel you have learned the most from?

Nico Muhly / Selmasongs / Mark Bell

Most cherished moment(s) from Bedroom Community’s first ten years?

WhaleWatching Tour 2010

Favourite film score(s)

Bernard Herrmann Vertigo


One musical philosophy that has always remained true for you?

“It doesn’t matter what you can, only what you do” – Einar Örn Benediktsson 1982

A piece of music / recording / song that speaks to you like no other
Nick Drake River Man


‘Scent Opera’ by Nico Muhly & Valgeir Sigurðsson is available now:

For full dates of Bedroom Community’s forthcoming Whale Watching European Tour, visit HERE



Chosen One: Daníel Bjarnason

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Interview with Daníel Bjarnason.

“A painting is not about experience. It is an experience.”

―Mark Rothko

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


The Autumn of 2013 heralded the highly anticipated return of Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason’s newest work, entitled ‘Over Light Earth’, released on the prestigious Iceland–based independent label, Bedroom Community. ‘Over Light Earth’ represents yet another groundbreaking work in contemporary neoclassical music from the multi-award winning composer. The latest record is Bjarnason’s third release for Bedroom Community, having released the stunning ‘Solaris’ collaboration with label–mate Ben Frost last year and the similarly universally-acclaimed debut album, 2010’s ‘Processions’. The latter was described by Time Out NY as “coming eerily close to defining classical music’s undefinable brave new world.” On ‘Over Light Earth’ an equally exhilarating new world is created by the masterful composer that encompasses a seamless array of stunningly beautiful arrangements, intricately woven melodious patterns and enriching textures.

‘Over Light Earth’ comprises three major works. The title–work is Bjarnason’s nod to the abstract expressionism school of painters – such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock – where a sprawling sonic canvas is wonderfully drawn from. ‘Light Over Earth’ was commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The second piece is aptly titled ‘Emergence’, where a plethora of strings (performed by the newly formed Reykjavík Sinfonia) conjures up a vast ocean of mood as dramatic tension gradually unfolds as the emergence of Bjarnason’s orchestral voice comes into full-focus, in all its power and glory. ‘Solitudes’ comprises the third and final piece that in fact is Bjarnason’s first piano concerto, reworked with electronics by Valgeir Sigurðsson and Ben Frost. The magical spirit of John Cage permeates the piece’s hypnotic piano motifs and rhythmic pulses of strings. The results are nothing short of staggering.

Bjarnason’s string arrangements can be heard on the last two records by Icelandic ensemble Sigur Rós – most ‘Kveikur’, released in June of 2013 – and not to mention the plethora of collaborations with label-mates Valgeir Sigurðsson, Nadia Sirota and Nico Muhly in the not-too-distant past. As ever, a rich symbiosis exists between the Bedroom Community collective of gifted composers and musicians that effortlessly percolates into the solo artist’s respective work of true art. In 2012, Bjarnason contributed the score to the feature film ‘The Deep’. His composition was awarded Best Film Score at the Icelandic Film and Television Awards in 2013 and nominated Best Original Score at the Harpa Nordic Film Composers Awards 2013. His 2012 compositions, ‘The Isle Is Full Of Noises’ and ‘Light Over Earth’ won him the prize for Best Composer at the 2013 Icelandic Music Awards.



Interview with Daníel Bjarnason.

Congratulations on your new record ‘Over Light Earth’. I’ve loved your first solo record, ‘Processions’ and the new music is equally stunning. I love the sequencing – and the beautiful flow – to the album and how it’s separated into three distinct movements. Can you please discuss for me these three wonderfully realized worlds you so effortlessly have created; ‘Over Light Earth’, ‘Emergence’ and ‘Solitudes’ and how this deeply affecting intensity of emotion is captured so well in these recordings?

DB: Well…thank for your kind words! Actually the 3 pieces on the album all have a very different genesis and they are all written for different occasions. The last piece on the album is actually the oldest one, 10 years old! But it was the first thing we recorded when I joined Bedroom Community 4 years ago. Emergence is this huge orchestral thing I wrote for the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra around the time I was becoming a father. It is a bit of a crossroads piece in that I am looking back at things from my past but also moving forward and trying things I hadn’t done before. The most recent piece is Over Light Earth which was written on commission from the LA Phil and premiered last year. It says the most about where I am right now even though I have already moved on from certain things in that piece (at least I think I have, but it’s sometimes hard to tell). So actually the pieces are not at all thought of in a unified way and what I guess really brings them together on this album is the way they are approached from a recording and producing point of view.


I was intrigued to read how the works of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock formed such an inspiration for ‘Over Light Earth’, and indeed Canvases No 9 and Number 1, 1949 inspired the two movements of ‘Over Light Earth’. I would love to gain an insight into your fascination with these particular paintings? The music shares similar qualities of abstract beauty and a plethora of meanings are obtained, just as the works of Pollock and Rothko share. 

DB: Obviously there are a lot of shared space between (abstract) art and instrumental music. I feel very close to this period in art called abstract expressionism and the way both Rothko and Pollock approached their art as well as other artists from that period. Sometimes it is also a question of coincidence. While I was thinking a lot about what I wanted to do for this piece I happened to be in LA and walk in on an exhibition where I saw this Pollock that knocked me off my feet. Rothko is obviously more subtle but had a deep aftereffect somehow. Even though I had seen works by both these painters in museums before I felt like I was really seeing them for the first time. Sometimes things just happen like that. But in the end the piece is not really about that or an illustration of a certain piece of art. It’s more that you put yourself in a certain headspace and meditate on certain things while you’re creating. I don’t want people to think too much about Rothko and Pollock when they listen to the piece. It becomes its own thing. This is why I am often afraid of telling people about the connections one is making while creating a piece of music. There are a lot of invisible threads in creation and sometimes it’s better if they remain invisible. However there is a big demand on artists to speak about their work and tell how and why and what. I’m a bit torn on this subject.


I would love to learn about your creative process involved in these life-affirming compositions? I read your recording technique involves meticulous close-miking and multi-tracking. I would love for you to talk a bit about this please?

DB: For this album we really approached the recording process in a non-classical way. It was recorded in sections with the strings, brass, wind, percussion, harp and piano all recorded separately. We recorded the wind, brass and strings in groups as much as possible but even so there was a lot of overdubbing. This became a bit of a scrolling nightmare in ProTools because we had well over a hundred tracks running most of the time. But in return we had a lot of control.


This special record sees your own music performed by the newly formed Reykjavík Sinfonia, creating in turn, a monumental symphonic recording. As a conductor, how did the music evolve – from the music you first of all wrote and seeing it take on new significances horizons later on – and how you felt as a composer, when you heard the resulting works performed by the orchestra?

DB: I’m used to following my music all the way from perception to performance and I sometimes feel like I don’t really know a piece of mine until I have conducted or performed it myself. But performing your work and recording it for the first time is always special. Because of the way this album was recorded in layers it was sometimes hard to keep track of the big picture but I’m happy with how it all came together in the end.


I love all the music you have collaborated on, from the likes of Sigur Rós and Efterklang – some of the most innovative bands making music today – and the amazing ‘Solaris’ record, in which you collaborated with Ben Frost. As an artist and composer, these magical projects must provide you with great inspiration and tap into the music of your own solo works. Can you discuss for me the collaborative aspect of your music, and how you feel you have developed as a composer, on the back of these amazing records?

DB: I feel it is important to collaborate and I enjoy it very much, especially when I have had the good fortune to work with the people you mention. When you are arranging music it’s a delicate balancing act of bringing something of yours to the music but not making it become about you. When collaborating on a new piece you need to work differently than when you are composing your own music; you relinquish some control but you’re also involved in a dialogue which you sometimes miss when working alone. Working with Ben was great and I think we’ll continue to work together on various projects.


Can you trace back to your earliest musical memory? I can only imagine you must have come from a very musical family and background. Were there particular records or events that triggered for you your love of music and fascination with sound?

DB: Well, I didn’t come from your typical musicians family and neither of my parents are musicians. I did get a pretty good music upbringing though and when my family lived in Madison, Wisconsin I went to a great pre school called Pre-school of the Arts. I think my first musical love was Mozart actually. When I was about 3 or 4 I had this cassette that told the story of his life and played his music and I used to listen to that a lot. I was also crazy about Michael Jackson.


‘Over Light Earth’ is available now on Bedroom Community.



Written by admin

December 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm