Icelandic cellist and vocalist Hildur Gudnadottir has shocked me this year with the awe inspiring live performance album Leyfdu Ljosinu on the UK based imprint Touch. Recorded live with no audience at the Music Research Centre, University of Yorke in January of this year, the flowing essence of minimal presentation is astounding and as powerful as anything I have heard this year. Minimal in approach, Hildur Gudnadottir presents a four minute intro of eerie and slowly burning cello that sets the tone for the type of atmosphere that is to follow on Leyfdu Ljosinu. The following track contains the self titled piece and runs for almost forty minutes as one movement that shifts in various cycles that closes out the album. There is an underlining emotion and feeling that takes over the album, something that defines the albums purpose so well. It’s unbelievable how Hildur Gudnadottir achieves some of the layering that she does with electronics, cello and her vocals and it’s all very angelic and harmonious, never drifting outside of the realm of crystalline beauty. The climax of vocals, cello and electronics at the end is definitely worth the slowly building energy that this album paces at and displays a stunning performance of her cello capabilities with no post production involved.
Much of Leyfdu Ljosinu drifts and floats into different cascading cloths of color, folding inside of itself as each drifting moment cycles around to the other. The atmosphere feels cinematic and speaks for as much tension and restrain as it does muscular power and velocity. Leyfdu Ljosinu is really a remarkable testament to the importance of minimalism in ones music diet. As many albums strive to become large, this is the type of sound that feels large from the smallest of sources and the sound that isn’t being played by instruments becomes just as important as those present. In this world, the type of microphones utilized, a rooms acoustics and many more elements that lay unspoken in the albums final result become factors that give a much greater weight to the music than most contemporary records and is one that engineer Tony Myatt pulled off remarkably.
With vocals that sound like they are hardly surfacing through the depth of a blanketed forest in a lucid dream, intricately vibrant and softly placed loops and an overall musical imagination that paints thousands of pictures, Leyfdu Ljosinu truly becomes a magical and otherworldly vibration.
Voice, cello & electronics: Hildur Gudnadottir
Recorded & mixed by Tony Myatt
Mastered by Denis Blackham
From Touch Records:
Hildur Gudnadottir’s new album ‘Leyfdu ljosinu’ (Icelandic for ‘Allow the light’), was recorded live at the Music Research Centre, University of York, in January 2012 by Tony Myatt, using a SoundField ST450 Ambisonic microphone and two Neumann U87 microphones. (NB – It was not played in a concert environment and there was no audience.)
To be faithful to time and space – elements vital to the movement of sound – this album was recorded entirely live, with no post-tampering of the recordings’ own sense of occasion.