A Fool in the Forest
“Listening Listfully 2017”
BBC Culture’s "Best Albums of 2017"
Iceland is in the middle of a classical renaissance, with Jóhann Jóhannsson composing some of the most thrilling film scores in years including Sicario and Arrival. And this collection of composers shows just how much more talent the island nation has to offer.
A Closer Listen
"A sense of wonder develops when one realizes one is listening to one of the year’s best albums. This takes a while to solidify. First impressions are hard to trust. By the tenth play or so, it hardens. While I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve played Recurrence, I’ve retained that sense of wonder.
Not that this should come as any surprise, as Recurrence has been one of the most anticipated albums ever since its announcement in November. Recurrence highlights Daniel Bjarnason at the helm of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, conducting pieces from Anna Thorvaldsdottir, amiina’s Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Thuridur Jónsdóttir, Hlynur Aðils Vilmarsson and himself.
The album operates as a showcase for the entire nation of Iceland. A gauntlet thrown down to the global music community. Despite its many authors, the set flows perfectly as a whole, a credit to Bjarnason’s conducting skills as well as to the skills of the orchestra. While listening, one yearns for a musical Olympics where all national orchestras might compete, each performing new music from their homelands."
"The native composers showcased in this, the first volume of the ‘ISO Project’, are all new to me, but a preliminary listen certainly piqued my interest.
The sound worlds here will surely appeal to those who know and like the music of Iceland’s best-known composer, Jón Leifs (Geysir especially), and the Dane Anders Hillborg. The acoustic/electronic glissandi and crescendi of composer/flautist Thurídur Jónsdóttir’s Flow and Fusion are discreetly thrilling, and the work’s finely calibrated shapes and sonorities are very impressive. And if that suggests something generic, prepare for a pleasant surprise. Jónsdottir doesn’t overwork her material, and that’s always a good sign. As for the fine recording – engineered by Dan Merceruio and Daniel Shores – it enhances what is already an engrossing aural experience.
Quietly spectacular scores, beautifully played and recorded; a most desirable issue."