Bedroom Community

Press Reviews for SÓLARIS

The album SÓLARIS is the collaborative work of Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason and creates a mesmerizing synergy of their musical minds.

SÓLARIS could be described as melodic, experimental sound-art.

The album is brand new, released today by Icelandic record label and collaborative Bedroom Community.

And I've already listened to it for you.

First of all, I shall introduce you to the artists.

Australian-born Ben Frost is mostly recognized for his experimental music which is inspired by minimalism, black metal, noise and many other genres.

He's a composer whose “vast, blackened post-industrial works often crystallize in moments of quiet beauty before disintegrating in pure visceral noise”, according to the label's website.

Frost's past albums Theory of Machines (2007) and By The Throat (2009) were a huge hit and received worldwide acclaim.

Daníel Bjarnason is a modern Icelandic conductor and composer with a classical background but also loves electronic music and he combines those two genres beautifully.

With his breakthrough album Processions (2010) Bjarnason won at the 2010 Icelandic Music Awards in the categories Best Composer and Best Composition.

Bedroom Community's website describes Bjarnason’s style as “orchestral music marries brutal modernism to classical aesthetics one moment and soaring ethereal harmonies the next.”

Now you know who we're dealing with: a noisy experimental producer and a classical composer.

The exceptional thing about SÓLARIS is of course its connection to cinematic mystery drama-science fiction masterpiece of the same name from 1972. 

If you're not familiar with this gem, it was directed by visionary Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and is a subtle, psychological film that contemplates grief and human memory in the span of approximately two hours and 30 minutes and remains a cult classic today.

Frost disliked the original soundtrack of the movie, so he decided to re-imagine the score with his label mate Bjarnason.

In the beginning, the music was composed through improvisation while Bjarnason and Frost watched Solaris a couple of times and recorded what they were playing.

Then they started working with Sinfonietta Cracovia, one of Poland's leading orchestras. In the process they created a dialogue between the film Solaris and their instruments: 29 strings, two percussionists, one specially-prepared piano and processed electric guitars.

Although the reinterpreted soundtrack SÓLARIS is supposed to accompany the film, the score also stands by itself as “a skeletal composition of twists, turns and dynamic shifts which are often quite in contrast to purely instinctual 'musical' choices,” as Frost explained.

I always find it very hard to describe experimental music because of its unpredictability. Especially in the case of this album.

To me, the best way to illustrate what SÓLARIS sounds like is to describe the process of its creation and its close ties to the corresponding movie.

You could also listen to a few assorted sound bites of the 11 tracks: “Reyja”, “Cruel Miracles” (to me the most alien-like and unsettling song on the album) and “Saccades”.
Sadly I've only watched parts of Tarkovsky's Solaris, but when listening to Frost’s and Bjarnason's response to the movie I could easily imagine the futuristic, unreal, alien world on screen due to the atmosphere created by the instruments.

I got the sense that there was something dangerous lurking outside in the wide-open sonic spaces.

The music is tense, grave, unsettling but also subtle, majestic and sensuous.

The music website Boomkat calls SÓLARIS “immense, elegiac space music.” I couldn't have said it better. That really hits the mark.

Musically I would award this musical space odyssey with three stars, but as I love the project and the whole idea involving the movie I will give SÓLARIS four glorious stars.

Iceland Review (November 7th 2011) ★★★★★★★★

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