It’s day two in Harpa. I arrived early to check out the ambiance and to plan what to see this evening. For me, Sónar is not only about the music, but also the people. I enjoyed seeing so many different types, I felt like it was a fashion show. It’s clear that the people have good taste in fashion as well as music. Then there’s always the occasional guy in light-shoes, someone wearing a lego costume and so on. That makes it more fun.
I started the night by checking out Vaginaboys. Þorbjörg Roach from Retro Stefson was with them on stage, engineering their beat with her synthesizer and I thought her presence was a nice contrast to the masked guys. I absolutely love the music of this rather new Icelandic band. They cover their faces and sing through vocoder, which gives them an interesting vibe. That said, I was a tiny bit disappointed by their live performance. I think it didn’t add much to listening to the music at home or in my car. Also, the crowd wasn’t sure what to do when they shouted things like “can I get an AMEN” and “praise the lord”. I’ll forgive them, as I sill think they’re making good music and I’m looking forward to hearing more from them.
Apparat Organ Quartet
I decided to see Apparat Organ Quartet next. Their live performance is great. Steinunn (Dj Airplane and Spaceship) was with them on stage, dancing wildly and the audience soon followed her lead. Everything the band does is hand-played, and this “machine rock and roll” as they describe it themselves has a catchy rhythm. It doesn’t matter if you’ve listened to their music before or not, I would definitely recommend seeing this band performing live.
Next, I saw Holly Herndon. This was definitely the most unique and interesting performance of the Friday evening, a computer-based performance with visual aspects. On the screen behind her, words, sentences and things were floating around. She processes her own voice as long with sounds that have been cut up, and I read later that her new songs revolve around online espionage, political control and information overload. I was entranced by her work from the visual art point of view and also liked trying to analyze what her message was.
Finally, Kiasmos was up on stage. Once again, Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen did not disappoint. The visuals were beautiful, similar to their music videos, probably inspired by the Icelandic nature. The music is so pure and beautiful, and hearing it live was spectacular. During their show, me and my friend got hungry and sat down by a wall to have some chocolate. I can definitely recommend that kind of picnic while listening to the flowing sound of Kiasmos.
I’ll admit, this music sounded a bit strange to me. The artist says that he wants to explore “the most hallucinatory, nightmarish and brutally visceral capacities of electronic music,” So you can only imagine. I suddenly had the same feeling like I have after drinking too many cups of coffee. But it was interesting and the visuals were nice.