1. Guard Down
2. The Crumbling
3. World Without Ground
4. Between Monuments
5. Guardian at the Door
6. Erased Duet
7. Reverse Erased
8. Big Reveal
10. Gone Not Forgotten
The parameters of musical possibility are vast on Valgeir Sigurðsson’s third LP; Architecture of Loss. The music flows from no “notes” at all to lyrical, folk-like melody, from spare, acoustic sound to dense digital intervention. Originally composed for the s/t ballet piece by Stephen Petronio and company, Architecture of Loss is a powerful music piece in its own right where Valgeir works from a broad palette of absences.
By deploying an array of digital processes, a small, flexible ensemble and pared-down musical materials, the music can pivot instantly into someplace radically different. The viola hangs onto a single note, for instance, then transforms that note into a scraping, rasping effect. That transformation from pure tone to pure gesture ripples through the fiddle’s electronic multiples until the whole texture has turned inside out; a spare, sputtering, abstract electronic beat yields to the shaggy sounds of a few live drums or vice versa. The result is what sounds like a completely different piece of music.
The performers were handpicked from trusted Bedroom Community regulars: in addition to Valgeir himself and composer/keyboardist Nico Muhly, the album features classical violist Nadia Sirota - her sound is as deeply individual and immediately recognizable as the sound of her speaking voice and takes full possession of the notes on the page—and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily - a secret weapon of a sideman who excels at exactly the things you can’t put down on paper, from solid grooves to scribbles of noise.
The resulting piece maintains a structural unity surpassing either of Valgeir’s previous, more formally open LPs. His solo debut - Ekvílibríum - boasted singers like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Dawn McCarthy, still the voice of that record was unmistakably Valgeir’s own. On his second solo disc - the soundtrack to the film Draumalandið - the suite of movements released on disc enjoyed an aesthetic life of its own independent of the finished film. Draumalandið and Ekvílibríum were allowed to develop freely as recording projects but Architecure of Loss had to be realized with physical performance in mind, by its players and dancers.
This album represents the piece as conceived and reconceived for the stage, and then reconceived again as pure music (the movement “Gone, Not Forgotten,” for instance, is exclusive to this recording). Created, pored over and developed: the result is a meticulously designed edifice, a sound architecture of musical and physical gestures and stillnesses.
What the press says
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.
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On the web
- Find out more on Valgeir Sigurðsson’s website
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