Samaris: Silkidrangar Sessions (One Little Indian)

Ethereal Icelandic trio return with excellent second LP

Released May 5th, 2015 via One Little Indian / By Norman Miller
Samaris: Silkidrangar Sessions (One Little Indian) Bursting on the local scene in 2011 with their award-winning debut EP Hljóma Þú , Icelandic trio Samaris - Áslaug Brún Magnúsdóttir (clarinet), Þórður Kári Steinþórsson (aka 'Doddi' - electronics) and Jófríður Ákadóttir (vocals) – garnered wider interest and a UK record deal that spawned 2013's eponymous debut album then last year's Silkidrangar.

Boldly mixing cool electronics with things like 19th-century Icelandic poems, Samaris have already given us a host of classics: the stupendous electro-folk 'Viltu Vitrast', the sparsely beautiful 'Goda Tungl' and the rich electronic wash of 'Stofnar Falla'.

It's a musical template carried on in this reworking of tracks from last year's Silkidrangar album, developed into something with a melodic muscularity that hints at Boards of Canada with a sparkily ethereal female vocalist. But Akadottir's vocals make this very much its own Icelandic beast, putting a new spin on that distinctive Icelandic inflection Bjork thought she had trademarked. Just check out the delivery on 'Pott Hannrigni', set thrillingly against a deep bass beat and electro-trills.

Elsewhere, the poignant 'Ed Vildifegin' is like an Icelandic Unthanks woven with washes of dark electronic and staccato percussive stabs, while the menacingly disjointed 'Hrafninn' nods to Massive Attack in their prime. The dancefloor drive of 'Brennur Slauga' contrasts with the sweetly melodic aching prettiness of the closer 'Nott (One For The Girls)'.

Only 'Lifsins Olgubjor' is a slight let-down, its promising harmonium-and-beats intro and slowly swirling melody let down by a rare lacklustre vocal. Otherwise, this is an outstanding alternative for someone sick of Bjork but still in search of something with stirring Icelandic soul.