≗ Shades ≗
Árstíðir’s music defies genre borders and might best be described as classically influenced indie folk rock. As soon as you hear the first bars of the track, ‘Shades‘, you can hardly escape the fascination that comes from this music.
There is something at once familiar and enchantingly strange about Reykjavik chamber folk band Árstíðir. (Pronounce it a bit like our-stee-der.) Maybe it’s got to do with the smooth way they combine classical and Icelandic folk influences.
Iceland has been known for poetic traditions for centuries and Árstíðir is a worthy successor to those who composed poems and sang them in both older and newer compositions.
‘Shades’ blows like a whirlwind. A seemingly acoustic arrangement of a progressive metal fire, with the nervousness and the controlled power that that supposes. Wild strings attack in the opening scene. Eventually replaced by short, incisive drumbeats that merge into fragile-sounding vocals. And then, suddenly like in a drama, closing with a volcanic outburst.
Strings of Harmony
The delicate and never intrusive vocal arrangements are striking, often accompanied by dotted piano sounds, acoustic guitar and orchestral strings. They master their instruments and their powerful harmonies sound almost like a full blown choir at times. And I mean, who doesn’t love some string action?
Arstidir, comprised of six guys, plays melancholic folk with soul-consuming polyphony. Three guitars, keys, violin and cello. The toolbox is trivial, but the Icelanders work wonders with them.
Each of their songs, whether a piercing ballad or unsettling opus, makes its way to the very depths of the soul. The pieces wake the listener with feelings about which he had long forgotten. Thus superimposing images never before seen.
And suddenly, right before your eyes appear the snowy valleys of Iceland. The whisper of waves and lonely houses on the shores of the majestic ocean. Árstíðir sends the listener on an amazing journey, returning from which, a little dumbfounded, but full of gratitude.
Consequently, Árstíðir’s music is a rare composition of the clear-cut and the complex. Their songs are easy to fall in love with yet mixed with diverse influences. This list includes progressive rock, indie, classical music, and Icelandic folk music.
Árstíðir eludes definition, and that’s the charm of their music…
RIYL: Ólafur Arnalds, Sólstafir, Magna Carta, Incredible String Band, Amazing Blondel