amiina, “Kurr”

Artist: amiina
Title: Kurr
Release Date: 2007

amiina, Kurr, released 2007 by Bláskjár Records

1) Sogg
2) Rugla
3) Glámur
4) Seoul
5) Lúpína
6) Hilli
7) Sexfaldur
8) Kolapot
9) Saga
10) Lóri
11) Bláfeldur
12) Boga

Kurr is amiina’s first full-length release. As always, their music is full of innocence and happiness, and they expand their palette of sounds a bit, including some intentionally dinky synthesizer sounds, as well the more ethereal timbres of musical saws, bowed metallophones, and crystal wineglasses[1]. Their music sounds very medieval, in part because the extra instruments they use, as well as the way they play their own stringed instruments, actively lack vibrato; and in part because their music is fanatically tonal.

All the songs are delicate and gentle, and the CD as a whole sounds like an extended lullaby. That homogeneity is both a blessing and a curse, however. It’s a consistently pretty CD, lovely all the way through…but although amiina is able to compose transcendent moments in many of the individual tracks, the album as a whole never peaks similarly, and ends up feeling a bit flat overall.

Most of the songs are fairly foursquare in beat and close in tempo, which is fine in small doses but gets a bit too predictable over the long run – especially in comparison to their first EP release AnimaminA, which has quite a bit of rhythmic subtlety. That, coupled with their extremely tonal language and nearly unchanging mood between songs, makes the album feel a bit static.

Individually taken, most of the songs on Kurr are gorgeous pieces: unpretentious, simple, and joyous. But as a whole, Kurr somehow feels less than the sum of its parts because of the lack of variety in amiina’s compositional decisions.

(1) It occurs to me that one of amiina’s inspirations may be, oddly, George Crumb’s Black Angels, which itself is scored for electric string quartet and various percussion batteries.