This weekend is going to be a busy one for Icelandic electro-wizards, Kiasmos. Friday sees the release of their latest EP, ‘Swept’, while Saturday will see them fly into Dublin to present their electronic “lux” in the uber trendy, District8.
Kiasmos is made up of Olafur Arnalds, kingpin of the Icelandic Electro-Classical world, and, long term friend and collaborator, Janus Rasmussen, the electro-pop enchanter who makes up one half of outfit Byrta, and is also a member of Ice-Faroese band, Bloodgroup.
Purveyors of a unique and highly imaginative, minimal-experimental electronic sound, Kiasmos first started playing together in 2009. They released their debut EP, ‘Thrown’, in 2012, followed by their eponymous album in 2014.
The new Kiasmos four-track EP, ‘Swept’, is at once striking, intriguing, bewitching and uplifting. It is a confluence of classical and electronic sensibilities, a sonic state where musical elegance gets a twenty first century makeover.
EP opener, ‘Drawn’ is quite the breath-taker. Delicate sparkling raindrops of piano, evolve into a river of swirling abstract chords that become infused with a carnival of percussive beats. In the midst of a gloriously refined melody, the stick click sounds create a “samba” like rhythm which gives the track an animated quality. These gloriously exuberant beats provide a colourful contrast to the elegant emotional backdrop that is ever present in Arnalds’ minimalist keys sequences.
‘Gaunt’ continues the percussive fiesta, giving it a full on “funk-samba” upgrade that wouldn’t go amiss on the streets of Rio. It is a track full to the brim with clever contrasts, as pumping electronic beats are skilfully overlaid by slow chilled synth lines, and peaks and troughs of pulsating rhythms are intersected by brief interludes of gentle piano. It is a wonderful muddled fusion of emotive tranquility and rigorous effervescence.
Lead track, ‘Swept’ ups the club-mix ante as the EP moves into “dance lite” mode. Melding typical dance beats with hypnotic piano loops and cool synth sounds, it is the musical definition of the “electric light orchestra”. Piano sequences shine through a dark low-fi thrum of pulses and percussive grooves, as this track evolves softly but majestically to a vibrant and pulsating climax.
The EP closes with the Tale of Us remix of ‘Swept’. Tale of Us is duo Matteo Milleri and Carmine Conte, both of whom were raised in Italy but now live in Berlin. These electro-mix specialists take their influences from rock through to nu-disco and plop them onto anything musical, from “straight-up dance floor jams to low-slung ambient tracks and more abstract compositions. ” They’ve ‘swept’ this track off its feet, giving it an altogether more techno vibe with their addition of heavier percussive and bass line elements.
‘Swept’ is a captivating weave of striking melodies, hugely ingenious percussive techniques and intricately arranged electronica, with a subtle classical twist. The key to its success lies in the subtlety that belies it’s intricacy. It is masterfully brought together from conception to production, and is a testament to Kiasmos’ adept musicianship, thoughtful instrumentation and their ever growing desire to both explore and push musical boundaries. If you think that electronic and classical architectures can’t work together – listen to this – and think again.
‘Swept’ will be released on 12″/DL on Friday 20th November via Erased Tapes.
A1 – Drawn
A2 – Gaunt
B1 – Swept
B2 – Swept (Tale of Us Remix )