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16 February 2017

Valgeir Sigurðsson - ‘Dissonance’: out April 21st

Valgeir Sigurðsson will release 'Dissonance', his first solo album since 2012, on April 21st.

"No Nights Dark Enough II. infamy sings" from the album is streaming now on XLR8R.

​“Post-minimalist, post-ambient, post-something else”
 
History freely dilates and collapses on Valgeir Sigurðsson’s Dissonance, his first solo release since 2012. Its three large-scale works are haunted by the old Western tradition, infused with the ethereal workings of electronics and sound manipulation.
 
Dissonance treads elegantly along a fine line between traditional symphonic organicism and the fissures of the faltering structures of reality. It takes forward Sigurðsson's typically expansive, panoramic writing, and elevates it to a perpetual construction and deconstruction of time and space.
 
These are hardly his first experiments with the archaic technology of classical instruments, but here the distance between past and present is precisely what the music itself is designed to explore, and to distort.     
 
Recorded and produced between September 2015 and November 2016 at Greenhouse Studios, Dissonance is disarmingly human, reflecting the most extreme four years of Sigurðsson’s life full of ecstatic joy and deep sorrow. Dissonance is a personal and collective musical treatise to explore and question a world that is collapsing under its internal dissonances. 
 
The recording process on Dissonance incorporates an orchestral recording technique that Sigurðsson has been developing for some years now, where he breaks up the orchestra and records each of its sections separately. Layer after layer he records performances by collaborators Liam Byrne and Reykjavík Sinfonia. A handful of string players and just one of each of the orchestra's instruments are then multiplied to create an imaginary orchestra. This method enables Sigurðsson's complete control over all the details and nuances, and the trade-off for the time-consuming process is a truly unique sounding ensemble that is at the composer's disposal for further electronic manipulation. This also results in an elastic palette of sound for the live performance version of Dissonance which Sigurðsson will take to the stage in 2017, alongside Liam Byrne (on strings) and visuals created by the Antivj collective.
 
 

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.

Seth Colter Walls — Pitchfork (April 25th 2017) ★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

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.

Laura Studarus — Bandcamp (April 25th 2017) Read all reviews

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.

Richard Allen — A Closer Listen (April 25th 2017) Read all reviews

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.

Tom Huizenga — NPR Music (April 25th 2017) Read all reviews

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.

Steindór Grétar Jónsson — The Reykjavík Grapevine (April 25th 2017) Read all reviews

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.

Peter Ellman — Exclaim! (April 28th 2017) ★★★★★★ Read all reviews

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.

Dylan Yadav — Immortal Reviews (April 28th 2017) Read all reviews

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.

Textura (April 28th 2017) Read all reviews

‘Dissonance’ is a meticulously constructed LP, all emotional strings tweaked with electronic manipulation.

Valgeir Sigurðsson has created a masterpiece with his latest effort, Dissonance.

Slavko Bucifal — The Line of Best Fit (June 28th 2017) ★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

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.

Clash (December 7th 2016) Read all reviews

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.

Arts Journal (June 21st 2012) Read all reviews

Hypnotic

New York Press (June 21st 2012) Read all reviews

Cool and haunting.

danceviewtimes (June 21st 2012) Read all reviews

A spare, melancholy, original score.

Solomons Says (June 21st 2012) Read all reviews

“…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.”

Squealer (August 22nd 2012) Read all reviews

...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.

The Milk Factory (September 12th 2012) ★★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

...brilliantly harrowing

The Wire (September 14th 2012) Read all reviews

...a gorgeous album

Erik Otis — Sound Colour Vibration (September 14th 2012) Read all reviews

...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 Liminal (September 17th 2012) Read all reviews

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.

Boomkat (September 18th 2012) Read all reviews

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.

Drowned In Sound (September 20th 2012) Read all reviews

A mind-numbingly beautiful take on your neoclassical thing utilising piano, wonderfully evocative viola/violin and plenty of…space.

Norman Records (September 21st 2012) ★★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

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.

Larry Day — Bearded Magazine (September 21st 2012) Read all reviews

“Architecture of Loss” offers a powerful and philosophically driven narrative at once sublime and disconcerting.

Q2 (September 24th 2012) Read all reviews

An album at once lyrical and avant-garde, full and concise, epic and contemplative, melodic and noisy…

Indie Rock Mag (September 25th 2012) Read all reviews

Architecture of Loss pits gravely emotive chamber music against furtive electronic frequencies.

Brian Howe — Pitchfork (September 28th 2012) ★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

Architecture of Loss is a leap forwards in sound and form for Valgeir Sigurðsson, a massively confident statement, icily beautiful. Recommended!

John Boursnell — Fluid Radio (September 30th 2012) Read all reviews

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.

Jez Collins — PopMatters (December 7th 2012) ★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

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.

Headphone Commute (December 18th 2012) Read all reviews

“...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.”

Create Digital Music (December 26th 2012) Read all reviews

“...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.”

Ned Raggett — AllMusic (January 3rd 2013) Read all reviews

A true musical creation from one of music’s most gifted and essential modern composers.

Fractured Air (January 24th 2013) Read all reviews

I’ve fallen in love with the LP

Stereophile (February 22nd 2013) Read all reviews

 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.  

The Milk Factory (February 24th 2010) ★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

 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.  

Brian Howe — Pitchfork (March 3rd 2010) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

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.”

Matt Poacher — The Line of Best Fit (March 16th 2010) Read all reviews

“Starting with a vocal number and ending with harrowing bombast, this soundtrack covers a lot of ground with grace…”

Greg Argo — Adequacy (June 22nd 2010) Read all reviews

“...everything about this collection of feelings, emotions and resonant creative constructions is pretty much immaculate.”

Joe Shooman — Grapevine (September 2nd 2010) Read all reviews

"The strength of Ekvílibríum is in the organic way [Sigurðsson] weds the electronic to the human... The result is a singular album, as ornate as it is direct."

Alex Waxman — The Fader Magazine (May 1st 2007) Read all reviews

"...almost collapses under the power of its own trembling beauty... Valgeir Sigurðsson delivers his bonded masterpiece... prepare to be dazzled."

George Bass — god is in the tv (June 21st 2007) ★★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

"Valgeir Sigurðsson is the most welcoming and thoughtful of hosts and, as he leads his companions through various narratives, he orchestrates one of the most exhilarating and perfect records you’ll hear this year."

themilkman — The Milk Factory (August 3rd 2007) Read all reviews

"an album for all connoisseurs of recorded sound, marrying exceptional electronic detail with real instrumentation on a grand scale."

Boomkat — Boomkat (September 1st 2007) Read all reviews

"...this is wonderful stuff"

Danny Clark — The Times (September 29th 2007) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

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