Bedroom Community

Press Reviews for Architecture Of Loss

Prolific Icelandic producer/composer Valgeir Sigurðsson has leant his fine skills to many projects over the years – producing for Kate Nash, Feist and Björk, becoming Oscar nominated for his work with Thom Yorke on 'I've Seen It All' and running one of the most successful recording Studios in Iceland. This guy is a big deal, and while you may not have heard or even know of his solo work, you've surely felt the effects of his musical prowess. His new record-cum-soundtrack has been composed for a ballet performance by Stephen Petronio, also titled The Architecture Of Loss. Petronio describes the show as being about “formation and disintegration, the physical manifestations of 'losing' and all that implies,” something which Sigurðsson has perfectly captivated in his solemn score.

Though originally intended as a soundtrack, it does stand alone as a work to be admired in itself – the sublimes flourishes of miserable beauty and impeccable trembling minimalist strings are a classic romance. 'Big Reveal' crackles like an macabre bonfire; ratatat percussion pops and gyrates, providing a kinaesthetic backdrop for the suspenseful strings, squeaking and fading over a drone of morbid bass notes. At times, it feels like the sparse gunfire of a midnight conflict rains overhead. Other times it feels like there is a dense stillness surrounding the listener.

'Reverse Erased' is a dissonant, serialist spike of art music. The mismatched chords and pizzicato violin are a tsunami of tension, of which there is little respite – sustained low register notes slowly invade the airwaves, accompanied by marching drums and a pungent rhythm, creeping ever further into the spotlight. Utilising distorted percussion and minimalist techniques, the result is something wholly unnerving. 'Erased Duet' however, is soft, with achingly serene strings taking centre stage, elegantly carrying rich melodies. The duelling strings converse, providing snippets of melody and responding to each other; the whole effort acts as a counterpoint to 'Reverse Erased'.

'Guardian At The Door' slovenly quakes beneath the surface, taking almost two minutes to begin proper. This is the eye of the storm. It's a darkly ambient hold-your-breath kind of malice which drags the effort towards the end, something dangerous bubbling just out of sight which keeps you on tenterhooks. Closing number 'World Without Ground' brings the whole record full circle – repeating key themes from the opening track 'Big Reveal' and featuring similar muted drum machine bloops, purgatory violins and fear-wracked bass, it acts as a hallowed final curtain, repeating the cycle of loss.

There is a definite filmic aspect to the LP, and clearly it is a flawless score to what presumably is a thoroughly brilliant ballet. It does, however, act as it's own work of art – it's not necessarily 'music' in the sense you can dance to it, or even relax and enjoy it, but you are entirely absorbed in the sonic textures and engaged by the ensuing emotions. Valgeir is currently touring the ballet, performing the album in full alongside some of his Bedroom Community labelmates, and the consensus so far is that The 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)

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  • Find out more on Valgeir Sigurðsson’s website
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