Hekla

“A”

PHNTM3 scanZoom inLabelPhantom Limb
Cat. No.PHNTM3
FormatEXCLS-LP
Orders fromFri, 02 Nov 2018
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Review

OVERVIEW: Newcomer Hekla releases her uniquely beautiful debut album for solo theremin and voice Á through Phantom Limb Records - run and curated by former FatCat Records, Thrill Jockey and Royal Albert Hall execs James Vella, Ken Li and Mark Pearse. A Berlin-residing Icelander, Hekla’s sparse, delicate, fractal music exists within these two worlds: dark and magical as Iceland’s permanight folklore; and (though beatless) as deeply sonic and intense as Berlin’s electronic scene. A long-term scholar of solo theremin, Hekla (shortened from her own name Hekla Magnúsdóttir) uses her instrument as an otherworldly and highly evocative Siren-call. A spectral, wailing, howling, lamenting yearning second-voice that underpins a soft vocal delivery, as if her studio had been haunted with a chorus of ghostly backing singers. While a handful of reference points share a similar ground to Á - Colleen’s interplay of voice and instrumentation; the richly immersive filmscore work of sadly passed fellow Icelander Jóhann Jóhannsson’s; “grandmother of theremin” Clara Rockmore’s close relationship with such a singular instrument; Julia Holter’s intelligent and classically-aligned songwriting - Hekla’s music still exists singularly. A one-off talent, emerging from no particular scene, ascribing to no particular rules. As a creative tool, the theremin - bizarre, unique, rarely heard - can be expressive, intuitive and highly adaptable. In Hekla’s hands, her instrument covers an enormous range, from skittering birdsong of high frequency chirrups and chirps, to grinding, tectonic sub-bass. We are given the throbbing, apocalyptic dread of ‘Muddle’ and the baroque beauty of traditional Icelandic hymn ‘Heyr Himna Smi?ur’ in sequential tracks on the album’s a-side. Appropriately, she also writes that the album title - Á - is similarly multifaceted in her native Icelandic: “a river is an á and also it means ouch like when you hurt yourself, and also when you put something on top of somethi

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