Tag Archives: golden circle

Iceland Airwaves (11/6): Reflection

I’m not a radio major, and before this class, I had never recorded an interview or produced an audio piece. I figured I’d learn it as I went, and I was right–but our professor, Althea, was also right when she told us that we’d get much more out of this class than we could ever expect.

From stepping into one climate from another after a full day without sleep, only to keep the pattern going as we stumbled around Reykjavík with plum-circled eyes, to managing to conduct six back-to-back interviews in a two day period– I’m still in awe that we managed to get it all done, especially regarding the fact that all of us survived on sporadic hour-long sequences of naps in between Icelandic excursions and shows to cover.

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Iceland Airwaves Day 4: Waterfalls, Geysers, Halleluwah (11/2)

“Why have one drummer when you can have…two”-Rakel Mjöll of Halleluwah

That 8 AM wake up really sneaks up on you when the night before ended just a few hours prior. Reykjavík knows how to party and it certainly knows a thing or two about karaoke.

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The hardest part was keeping the crowd engaged.

I along with the rest of the tired-eyed bunch made our way to Iceland’s Golden Circle for a day of sight seeing that featured some of the most exquisite views that the country has to offer. The two standouts for this traveler include the majestic Gullfoss Waterfall and the Haukadalur Geothermal Area which featured Strokkur, the first geyser I’ve seen in person. During the obligatory geyser safety seminar, our tour guide informed us that Winston Churchill once burnt himself at the geyser. After enduring a few geyser related downpours, it seemed as if I now have one less thing in common with Mr. Churchill. The geyser provided an eye opening dosage of cold water and a much needed semi-shower to dampen my hair that was still sticky from the champagne bath courtesy of Lord Pusswhip the night before. 

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Since coming to Iceland I’ve had puffin, lobster soup, and whale, and the trend of trying something new continued as I got my dinner from Aktu Taktu, one of the few places we’ve come across with a drive-thru window. Think of a Carls Jr. but with a french fry distribution style that more reflects 5 Guys. One giant taco and a fist full of fries later and I was fed and ready for the night’s acts. The shows reviewed were supplemented by an incredible performance by Boogie Trouble and two very packed shows featuring Gold Panda and Fatima Al Qadir.

Trust The Lies at Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s structural integrity was put to the test as Trust The Lies let loose an ear splitting set that sent shock waves through every amp and ear drum in their proximity. A double dose of distorted guitar along with a rhythm section that experienced the equivalent of a cardio workout created a pulverizing wall of sound that stood behind the roars of frontman Magnús.

Kontinuum at Amsterdam

Kontinuum’s brand of post-metal music created a synthetic sense of dread that can be summarized as that which a surfer may feel once a towering wave reaches the tipping point. Slow building numbers that work towards a barrage of ambient gloom.

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Halleluwah at Hressó

Halleluwah knows how to make an entrance. Sölvi Blöndal, producer and drummer of Halleluwah kicked things off by pounding out a precise rhythm while off to his side was their second drummer who synced up with Blöndal’s measures. No matter how hard the snares were struck, the electronic orchestrations that blasted through the speakers hit back harder. Midway through the opening instrumental , Halleluwah frontwoman Raketa  made her first appearance and took her place behind the microphone. Raketa introduced each song with a story, these introductions were only exceeded by the introduction of Raketa’s vocals that seemed to have been pulled out of a time capsule. When both drums weren’t hammering out near militant beats, the second drummer would take to the keyboard and pound out Pet Sounds worthy tones. Halleluwah brought the perfect blend of pop proficiency and personality to Hressó .

Jon Hopkins began his DJ set at Harpa Silfurberg a little after midnight and will be featured in tomorrow’s post.

Iceland Airwaves Day Four: Kiriyama Family, We Are Wolves (11/2)

With very little sleep we woke up dark and early for our trip to the Golden Circle which houses many of Iceland’s natural wonders.

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We climbed mountains, saw geysers, and took in the other side of Iceland that Reykjavík doesn’t show.

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…And on the other side…

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“Iceland has no army, because we don’t have any enemies,” Our tour guide began, “here the enemy is nature that we battle with.”

We got a first hand experience of this fact at a greenhouse that grows and harvests tomatoes on a daily basis. In order to maintain their garden they use more electricity than a small village to mimic the effects of sunlight, and the entire growing process is a regimented process of growing and replacing plants at just the right time. As for protecting the plants? A delicate eco-system of insects are used to eradicate pests and the balance must constantly be maintained. It makes one wonder why with the ease of gardening and farming in the states we still can’t seem to universally uphold the same standards of quality and avoidance of pesticides. Some do, but most chase profit at the expense of a simple and elegant solution to a less pervasive problem.

One of the stories I’ve been tracking down on my trip is the intersection of creativity in politics and on this trip I got to see the very beginning of Iceland’s government.

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Here, where the tectonic plates meet, one of the few places in the world where they are visible above ground, the first gathering of the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, would meet to bridge the gap of ideological and political discourse. At a place known as Lögberg, or Law Rock, politicians gathered to decide the future of Iceland in the crisp mountain air. As unconventional as that sounds, Law Rock is in many ways the perfect place to hold an assembly. The ridges and valleys of the terrain create a natural shield from wind and I found myself actually taking off my winter coat outdoors for the first time since the hot tub.

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But upon returning to the hotel it was time to hit some shows.

Kiriyama Family

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A band I knew nothing about before checking out their show, Kiriyama Family were a nice surprise. What sounds like catchy, synth backed indie pop was elevated by the quality of the arrangements which make the music so much more. The song writing is exceptional and the performance was enhanced by the appearance of guest musicians, a female vocalist whose strong, beautiful voice harmonized well with the musical backing and a saxophone which blended fantastically with the synths.

We Are Wolves

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These guys absolutely killed it. French Canadian three-piece, We Are Wolves, appeared onstage wearing stockings on their heads that obscured their faces from the crowd at restaurant/venue Iðnó. The stockings only made it a few songs before being ripped off and it’s not hard to understand why. The band’s energy is phenomenal and they quickly became too sweaty for costumes. So did the crowd which ate up every bit of the rhythmic, Post Punk Indie tunes the group dished out. Think the constant, danceable, pounding, rhythms of The Hives with a lot more keyboard and your half way there, but the live show is where these boys shine. Tight, energetic and frankly unforgettable, We Are Wolves were one of the best acts of the festival.

One more day to go. From Reykjavík, signing out.