Tag Archives: futuregrapher

The Future is the Symphony

The Icelandic Symphony Orchestra

Thursday’s Airwaves sums up for me just how diverse the music scene is here in Iceland, and just how bloody good it is. Our first stop of the evening was at Harpa for the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra playing Draumalandið by Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurðsson. I’m not normally one to take more than a passing interest in classical music, but when I stumbled across Valgeir’s work on recommendation to see him and his Bedroom Community labelmates on the Whale Watching Tour, I couldn’t stop streaming it on repeat – the next thing I knew I’d reached for my credit card and a hard copy was in the post to me.

I’ve seen the Whale Watching Tour twice and narrowly missed a third performance of it along with the Icelandic Symphony in the Icelandic Opera House in Reykjavik, so I didn’t want to miss this one. The weight of a full orchestra behind the powerful and evocative score brought the drama of the Icelandic landscape and climate to life way over and beyond what you’d hear on record or on a smaller scale – and even then the lights and shades and tones and shapes and colours of Valgeir’s home are the most expressive I’ve ever heard. Wonderful.

Futuregrapher

But, there was another act I really really wanted to see here, and that was Futuregrapher. Futuregrapher is a founding member of Reykjavik’s weirdcore movement and I stumbled across him at last year’s Airwaves playing to a sparsely filled bar. He’s an electronic musician – I’d say DJ but apparently there’s an old connotation that DJs only play other people’s music, pressing a button then putting their feet up with a fag and a coffee till the next tune’s ready. But Futuregrapher is entirely original, and has more than a set of CDJs at his disposal. Normally I don’t particularly differentiate between people who look like they’re fiddling with knobs on mixer boards too easily – if I can dance to what they’re playing (which I probably will do most of the time) then great, and if not I’ll probably just wander off. Such folk aren’t often that visually interesting to watch anyway and one of Jamie’s favourite complaints about photographing them is that they all just look like they’re checking their emails on stage.

But Futuregrapher is a guy you have to watch as well as dance to – he dances, he gesticulates, he grimaces, his eyes pop, and if you’re lucky he’ll jump up on his desk and wave his mixer about – quite simply he breathes the music he’s making just as much as he knows you will. Definitely not an email checker, and definitely one of Jamie’s favourites this festival. And mine too – I was really pleased to see him headlining Faktory with the entire upper floor jumping around just as maniacally as Futuregrapher himself.  And I don’t know anywhere else where you can see such breathtaking performances by such hugely different artists and be blown away by both.

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Iceland Airwaves – my kidneys are coping so far!

Hello Airwaves fans! You’ll no doubt be pleased to learn that I’ve made it to my 8th festival of the year and I’ve not given myself kidney failure just yet! (I refer you to the dehydration incident of Kendal Calling..).

Water aid for kidneys

So far we’ve had a little wander round Reykjavik and seen the cutest Peace Protest EVER, with what looked like every 4 year old in the Reykjavik area:

4 year-olds want peace too

…and Bloodgroup who played at Havari. Bloodgroup are a pretty big deal who play danceable cinematic electropop and I’ve been wanting to see them for ages. Havari is an extremely ace record / cool stuff store in downtown Reykjavik, with a capacity of about 50 people.  They were obviously enjoying the gig tons which was just brilliant to watch. I’ll be stalking them down at Nasa tomorrow…

Bloodgroup play Havari

A lot of the off-venue stuff is easier to get into (fewer queues despite it all being free off-venue), and I managed to meet up with Mark from Iceblah and Wim from iloveicelandicmusic at the hresso Ring Lounge for Retro Stefson, who haven’t grabbed me too much on record so far but live were probably the most fun I’ve had at a gig since, well, ages. Firstly, and most significantly, they have a cowbell (always a sign of a band of sheer genius in my book), but not only do they have a cowbell, they haven’t palmed cowbell duties off on the singer or drummer. They have a dedicated cowbell player (who also sings and has a variety of other percussion items which he ably makes full use of). I mentioned this was in addition to the drummer didn’t I? Good. You can never have too much percussion or bass can you? Retro Stefson are full of energy and life and influences from here, there and everywhere, and that’s before we’ve even started on the Adam and the Ants / Bee Gees / Freddie Mercury- influenced 80s disco pop dancing they choreograph the crowd in. Total joy overload.

Retro Stefson

Later on I also managed to meet up with my friends Ed and Klara from the Downtown Hostel (which they told me has very deservedly been rated top hostel in the world for October 2010), and IcelandBob who had gamely volunteered to review bands in Cafe Amsterdam in return for reviewing Nasa tonight. Quite a cunning plan as that means he’ll get a prime spot for the very loud, very chaotic, very sweaty Reykjavik! there.

Queues all over were a problem at the official festival venues, not to mention overcrowding at Venue where I started off the night, so taking the festival initiative I buggered off for the tantalisingly named Weirdcore night at Apótekið and caught Futuregrapher, who I wanted to see purely because he has an awesome name. I was glad I did really as this was one of the most energetic DJs I’ve ever seen, twiddling his knobs while jumping on the table and restraining himself from throwing equipment everywhere in excitement. A definite 10 out of 10 for commitment to the vibe.

I’m currently sitting in a bookshop cafe with free wifi listening to some ace off-venue bands, in the company of some Airwaves glitterati (Lilja from Bloodgroup – or her clone – is sitting 3 tables away on her Mac). Nóra in particular are really rather good, especially as we’ve only come to see them as they’ve the same name as my travelling buddy Katie‘s gran. Which is turning out to be a reasonably reliable basis for picking bands.

Expect more noise / sweat / bassline / dancing anecdotes from the north soon…

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Filed under Europe, Festivals, Iceland, Music, Travel