25 April 2017
DISSONANCE by Valgeir Sigurðsson Out Now!
What the press says
Dissonance is a masterful piece of work.
The expansive title track makes a direct reference to Mozart’s String Quartet No. 19, commonly called the “Dissonance” quartet (thanks to the overlapping, chromatic lines that are present during its opening). Valgeir’s intention was to stretch Mozart’s initial gambit into a much longer piece. As an experiment, this seems promising.
That push and pull informs the melodic—and often dark—Dissonance. To gain control over every element of the album’s eight compositions, Sigurðsson recorded string players in small groups before layering the audio to create a full orchestra. The resulting sound is both lush and surreal, with Sigurðsson likening the result to walking around a concert hall during a performance—zooming in on whatever sound catches your ear.
It can be like tasting Campari or oysters for the first time. Many people might have a knee-jerk reaction and shudder or spit it out, but then gradually discover depth and richness in the taste and texture. You begin to sense the harmony and noise that on first listen can seem impossible to navigate, and start hearing further and deeper into it.
Dissonance embodies, almost by definition, the idea of things falling apart, a feeling of unrest, of issues unresolved, of disagreement. Sigurðsson offers that and more over the course of three symphonic works that are by turns dense and bleak yet magisterial. Don’t bother searching for even the slimmest shaft of sunlight.
Valgeir’s solo work could be categorized as classical, but the use of electronic technology makes it difficult to pigeonhole. ‘Dissonance’ is his first solo album since 2012’s ‘Architecture of Loss’, and features large-scale works drawing inspiration from apocalyptic themes, while also displaying his eye for detail and texture.
The result might evoke the smeared and impenetrable effect of György Ligeti’s “micro-polyphony.” Tension builds until 14 minutes in, when there is a breakthrough of warm consonant sunlight.
Valgeir Sigurðsson created true peace in Dissonance. It’s not easy to make an album so full of emotion but so empty at the same time.
Tension permeates the work in the way it juxtaposes the elegant sonority of the viola da gamba and the dissonant effect produced by the multiple pitches, as well as in the constant fluctuation between an adherence to classical form on the one hand and a glacial deconstruction of it on the other.
‘Dissonance’ is a meticulously constructed LP, all emotional strings tweaked with electronic manipulation.
Valgeir Sigurðsson has created a masterpiece with his latest effort, Dissonance.
The premise of the piece is that a series of oblique smells outline a narrative about the impact of industrialisation, and the contrast makes for arresting listening.
The music [...] can sound chill and eerie: there’s singing, echoing, rasping, crackling. At times, the piano emits single, spaced-out notes that sound like water dripping resoundingly on ice in a momentary thaw.
“…a staggeringly beautiful collection of heavyweight, noise-inflected classicist compositions….Fascinating and adventurous, we have a welcome foil to the overtly pretty side of modern classical music and a superb body of work in its own right.”
...Sigurðsson appears to bridge the gap between the primarily electronic textures and ambience of his debut and the sweeping orchestral feel of his second album to create a vastly different set up, which intrigues and fascinates in equal measures.
...Architecture of Loss is so dense, subtly varied and even ambiguous that to try and tie it down is an exercise in futility. Best to relax and bask in the numerous moments of touching, and troubling, beauty that run through its 10 mini-suites.
The execution of production is second to none and bears all the hallmarks of [Valgeir’s] visceral, expansive sound design across its 10 diverse and striking parts.
For Architecture Of Loss [Valgeir’s] turned off the computer and gone straight for your heart with strings. The result is, as you can imagine, rather downbeat but delightful in ways that you’d expect from an Icelandic man with such a resume.
A mind-numbingly beautiful take on your neoclassical thing utilising piano, wonderfully evocative viola/violin and plenty of…space.
Architecture Of Loss is moving, beautiful and thought-provoking. It commands your attention, admiration and respect, transcending the noises in the speakers, becoming something that symbolises loss and grief through the medium of music.
“Architecture of Loss” offers a powerful and philosophically driven narrative at once sublime and disconcerting.
An album at once lyrical and avant-garde, full and concise, epic and contemplative, melodic and noisy…
Architecture of Loss pits gravely emotive chamber music against furtive electronic frequencies.
Architecture of Loss is a leap forwards in sound and form for Valgeir Sigurðsson, a massively confident statement, icily beautiful. Recommended!
Sigurðsson has created a soundscape that is coherent, timeless, and thrilling…This album is sparse yet deeply layered, foreboding yet hopeful, dense yet melodic. It is, quite simply, beautiful, heartwarming and a masterpiece.
On Architecture Of Loss [...] Sigurðsson’s sound is even more mature, reflective and measured…As with the rest of Bedroom Community’s quality catalog, this is not an album to be missed.
“...an exquisite, often programmatic work in instrumental and digital processes. Built on a ballet, the sense of movement and gesture is intact even in its sparest moments.”
“...an indulgence in the best sense…Architecture of Loss lives up to its title as an aural meditation on not just loss but destabilization, an architecture coming apart.”
A true musical creation from one of music’s most gifted and essential modern composers.
Here, Sigurðsson adopts a restrained approach to the soundtrack to a particularly grave film, and he does so with great lucidity, underlying the content with powerful yet discreet touches. His greatest achievement is to manage to give the music an identity away from the images it was written for.
On Draumalandid, a soundtrack for a new Icelandic environmental documentary, Valgeir Sigurðsson goes the extra mile to produce work that stands up against the best of its genre.
Sigurðsson’s touch is at its most precise here, crafting an emotional weight that is moving, but not overstated. With such a keen ear for composition and flow, Sigurðsson has created a score that sounds remarkably evocative of the film’s main themes, while still able to stand alone as an album. At the very least, Draumalandið is another brilliant showcase of Bedroom Community’s burgeoning potential.
“Draumalandið is a forceful and poignant piece of work, and as part of the larger film project its quite outstanding.”
“Starting with a vocal number and ending with harrowing bombast, this soundtrack covers a lot of ground with grace…”
“...everything about this collection of feelings, emotions and resonant creative constructions is pretty much immaculate.”
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