Bedroom Community

Press Reviews for Ekvílibríum

Icelandic musician and producer Valgeir Sigurðsson is best known as a regular collaborator with Björk, having contributed to all her records since Selmasongs, and for recent stints with the likes of Bonnie Prince Billy (The Letting Go) and CocoRosie (The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn). He recently set up his own imprint, Bedroom Community, and has published Speaks Volumes, the debut album from twenty-four year old American classical composer Nico Muhly and the most recent output from Melbourne’s Ben Frost.

Ekvílibríum, Sigurðsson’s long overdue debut album is an elegant collection of gentle acoustic pieces tainted with orchestral swathes and discreet electronics textures. If the compositions could appear deceptively simple at first, repeat listens reveal complex and intricate formations which explode in colourful ribbons of sounds, textures and emotions to form the backbone of Sigurðsson’s exquisite miniature tales.

Nico Muhly handles the score here and appears in various capacities (piano, synths, celesta, string arrangements), leading an impressive cast, amongst which Guy Sigsworth, another regular Björk contributor, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Faun Fables’ Dawn McCarthy, Nick Cave collaborator Warren Ellis and Machine Translations’ J. Walker are some of the most high-profile intervenients. Sigurðsson makes good use of this constant afflux of energy. He, who is more often found in the background, guides this exotic ensemble through the meanderings of his imagination.

Although the majority of the compositions collected here are instrumental, vocals occasional materialize and bring an element of human tension into this wonderfully detailed and dense patchwork. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy lends his softly droned torments to Evolution Of Waters and Kin, pushing the two songs into moody corners. Evolution Of Waters especially sounds like a precious stone set against a lush string-laden backdrop of shimmering sub-melodies. There are echoes of Mark Kozelek on Baby Architect as J. Walker weaves surrealist lyrics into Sigurðsson’s wonderful atmospheric pop while Dawn McCarthy brings earthy flavours and emotional grounding to the dramatic Winter Sleep.

As a counterpoint to the rich and vibrant layers of opening track A Symmetry and Focal Point, After Four and even more so Equilibrium Is Restored offer beautiful autumnal textures and melancholic overtones. The latter track is not without recalling some of the ambiences of Ben Frost’s superb Theory Of Machines. The two remaining instrumentals allow for some of the most poignant arrangements and cinematic moments of the record. At just one minute forty, Before Nine serves as an impeccable introduction to the heart-warming Kin, while the intricate shimmering piano and guitar motifs of Lungs, For Merrilee bring this album to a truly inspiring finale.

Despite the many collaborators involved and the ambitious aspect of the project, Ekvílibríum is beautifully understated and subtle and above all deeply poetic. 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.


The Milk Factory (August 3rd 2007)

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