Konsulat – “Kolaport” (2018)

This little 10″ gem is a collaboration of Arnljótur Sigurðsson, best known for his work with the Icelandic reggae band Ojba Rasta (but just as importantly in my mind for playing bass on the best songs on Berndsen’s Lover In the Dark), and Þórður Grímsson of A & E Sounds fame. It’s a super limited release of only 25 copies, each of which are hand-numbered just inside the jacket.

Kolaport is definitely not what I was expecting from this pair. It’s beat-driven electronica, though I’m at a loss to provide a subgenera. I’d say it’s mid-tempo – hardly ambient, but not a dancefloor banger either. They synths on “Dagga Dagga” are a touch retro while the beats have an 808-like punch, remaining cohesive while never falling into any kind of rut. Meanwhile “Lífsblómið” introduces vocal samples overlaid onto a more more sterile and colder beat. I confess I’m a sucker for these kinds of samples, though, and I dig what Konsulat are doing on this track.

You can give Kolaport a listen on Bandcamp HERE. Note the full digital album is eight tracks, while this 10″ is comprised of only two. Given the limited quantity of the vinyl pressing, it’ll likely be a tough one to track down in a physical format.

A & E Sounds – “lp” (2015)

Everywhere I went in Reykjavik during Airwaves 2015 that sold records tried to put a copy of A & E Sounds’ newly released lp into my hands. And I can understand why. The album was the project of musician/artist Þórður Grímsson and sound engineer Kolbeinn Soffíuson, who both used it as parts of their university projects, Suffiuson using the records for his sound engineering studies and Grímsson the visual presentation of the vinyl release as his design project.

When you hold a copy of lp in your hand, you can see the attention to detail. The production was crowdfunded, which ensured that Grímsson could follow his artistic vision, and it shows. From the unique cover layout to the gatefold to the eight individual 12″ by 12″ prints, one for each song on the album that provides not only the recording details but also the art details (right down to the f-stops used in photographing the images), it’s probably the most intentionally designed album you’ll ever buy. Limited to 500 copies, many of which surely went to donors, it’s also destined to become a difficult-to-track-down and sought-after item before long. Oh, and did I mention the music is pretty damn good too?

Musically to my ears A & E Sounds is a blend of psych and shoegaze, dreamy and jangly, rich and full sounding without being overwhelming. There are no silent spaces, and even the quiet ones have sound, but there’s just so much flow to the music and vocals, like the lightest of breezes over a nearly but not quite still lake. Yet it doesn’t come across as overly instrumental – I don’t feel like there are a lot of instruments and performers competing for space, though that may have as much to do with how seamlessly blended the sounds are… or I may in fact be completely wrong.

A & E Sounds is well worth the listen. There’s a copious amount of music on the Soundcloud site HERE, so go check it out. And if you like it, go track ’em down on Facebook and see if you can get a copy of the record from them. You won’t regret it.