I have never heard music like the music of Ásgeir Trausti. In my eyes, the young Icelandic introvert is a genius. He can transport you to a wintery fjord deep within the volcanic heart of Iceland, in a stark landscape dotted sparsely by forest, the minks and foxes inspecting you curiously as you cast your fishing line into the ocean’s icy depths. He has that ability, and it’s honestly breathtaking.
To the great surprise of this humble artist (who grew up in the town of Laugarbakki with only forty other people), Ásgeir’s debut album Dýrð í dauðaþögn was released back in 2012 to such massive popular acclaim that it became the highest selling debut album in Iceland’s history. The album was so loved internationally that he translated the entire album into English – with the help of American singer-songwriter John Grant, of The Czars fame, and his father Einar Georg Einarsson, a renowned Icelandic poet who helps write his son’s lyrics – and re-released it under the name In The Silence. It was the English version that I fell in love with, but I can assure you that nothing about his ability to mesmerise is lost when you listen to it in his native tongue. It is simply an incredible achievement in atmosphere.
And now, his hugely anticipated sophomore effort, Afterglow, has arrived. Having had the chance to listen in, I can give no higher praise than to say it is comparable to his debut effort in many ways, but avoids being derivative. It carries a similar atmosphere, tone, and thematic concern; a winter chill again pervades the music, and themes of love, loneliness and those who are lost are tackled head-on, though it seems generally more upbeat as a whole. In sheer vocal and instrumental ability, the young Icelander is as spellbinding as we’re all used to him being; his soulful falsetto is accompanied by mournful violins, dazzling guitars, and sometimes even droning electronic beats to great effect. Look out for tracks ‘Afterglow’, ‘Unbound’ and ‘Nothing’ for some predictably stunning listens, and prepare yourself for what is sure to be one of 2017’s very best albums from one of the world’s very best, and unique, artists.