Bedroom Community

Press Reviews for Ekvílibríum

Aching beauty in every minute. That’s the five word description that springs to mind for Ekvílibríum, the debut album of Valgeir Sigurðsson, perhaps not the easiest to remember name, but certainly one of the most well known for being a stellar producer to various artists. The most famous is probably Björk, for whom he did various work on the delicate Vespertine and Medulla, but he has also worked with Bonnie “Prince” Billy (who guests on two songs here), and Cocorosie, a band of which I know very little. In the midst of all this production work, he started the Bedroom Community label, which shot to the top of everyone’s minds earlier this year with the outrageously fantastic Theory of Machines by Ben Frost. On his solo debut, there is a little bit of all these influences, from delicate folk vocals to careening strings to micro-noise beats, along with a various assortment of old instruments, and above all, an absolutely pristine, almost unbelievably natural recording aesthetic. These songs sound like they are in your room with you. Nowhere is this more apparent on my favorite track, “Baby Architect,” with J. Walker on vocals and 5 or so instruments (including ‘velcro’!). This song could have easily gone on for 10 blissful, gorgeous minutes. There is an ever present crackling fuzz throughout the song that reminds me of static being generated. To call this nostalgic would be understating the case. The strings and horns give it a majestic sound, even though the mood is one of pensive thought. “Focal Point” might be the most memorable track, with it’s distinctive piano by Nico Muhly and traces of Vespertine. The instrumental “After Four” has a mindbending and luscious synthesizer melody that floats throughout the track, taking you on a trip through the middle of the album. Elsewhere, “Equilbrium Is Restored” and “Before Nine” provide us with perhaps the most transcendent tracks of the set, with airy strings, synths, and piano. This tableau of celestial music takes us into the final portion of the album, with the second of 2 Bonnie “Prince” Billy vocal tracks, “Kin” and the amazing closer “Lungs, For Merrilee.” Bonnie “Prince” Billy (Will Oldham)’s track sounds like it’s from the perspective of a God, but could also easily be from a parent, a tale of love and empathy for the created. The strings on this song are especially lovely but the celesta (such an unusual and gorgeous instrument, appropriate to this album) and guitar melodies take centerstage. Bonnie’s vocals weave in and out of this with a classical grace benefitting its subject matter, reinforcing Will Oldham’s remarkable range. “Lungs, For Merrilee” takes us out in a grand fashion. Beginning as the quietest of compositions, the strings and piano swell and cascade over it’s course, reminding me a little bit of a cross between Ben Frost’s “Theory of Machines” and the closing theme from Heat. For me, it’s as perfect and cinematic of a way to end the album as any I could imagine.

Keith Pishnery

Word - Like a Scientist (September 8th 2007)

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