The New Classic
The rise of 21-year-old Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson reads like a particularly beguiling Icelandic fable.
Last year Asgeir released his first album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn, in his native Iceland. It quickly became his home country’s highest selling debut, surpassing even Björk and Sigur Rós in the process. A staggering one in ten Icelanders now owns a copy.
Asgeir’s 72-year-old father wrote the majority of the reportedly highly poetic lyrics. Won over by the record’s hushed, haunting melancholy, fellow Reykjavik inhabitant John Grant offered to translate those lyrics for this English-language version of the album.
Iceland’s infatuation with Asgeir is easy to understand. In The Silence is a rarefied, phantasmagorical album, rapt and pregnant with intuited meaning. Essentially these are ancient folk songs, yet their fragile skeletons are dusted and sprinkled with skeins of shimmering electronica.
A keening ghost in the machine, Asgeir sounds both wide-eyed and youthful, and old beyond his years. Hide Your Head In The Snow sounds as if it is hewn from the ice of Iceland’s Arctic north: the gorgeous, insatiable melody of Summer Guest could be Simon & Garfunkel reimagined for the digital age.
Rarefied and profound, In The Silence is a sweetly staggering achievement. Who knows? Björk may not be Iceland’s biggest pop star for too much longer.