Hailing from Reykjavik, pianist and composer Ingi Bjarni Skúlason fluidly melds the extreme landscapes of his native Iceland with an innate, resilient melodicism that shifts willfully within the body of his music like a slideshow of the wild Icelandic terrain.
Translated roughly as 'finding/discovery' or 'to have found something' Fundur immediately captures the ear with the openly expressive language that Bjarni, double bassist Bárður Reinert Poulsen and drummer Magnús Trygvason Eliassen bring to the trio format.Telepathic in nature, tenor, and temperament, the rhythm section enables the pianist's always searching ear to expand out, then return to the tight organic structures he seems to effortlessly compose. The central, jumpy motif of "S306" is a beautiful abstract, highlighting Bjarni's controlled balance of tuneful improv and creation, as Eliassen's seemingly nervous drums skip about in tandem with Bjarni's somewhat familiar, yet unpredictable, tune and how it twists and turns on and over itself.
"Hlaupa burtu" and "Thof" are briskly muscular and highly accessible entries into the robust workings of one of Europe's many captivating piano trios. The gentle, contemplative lull of "Snudur" has underneath it the quiet propulsion of Poulsen and Eliassen that hallmarks Fundur. As if to remind us that America's panic politics reach everywhere, "Trump Waltz" starts tense and pensive, only to break into a free-fall jam of stop and start piano outbursts, edgy drums, and peppery bass runs. And though it may not snow as much as people may think it does in Iceland, the closing "Sakna nordurljosa" (translated as 'missing the northern lights') and "Mars" just feel like snow falling.
Those familiar with the unwinding, narrative work of pianists Tord Gustavsen and the late Esbjorn Svensson might hear hints in Bjarni, but his emotionalism is all his own, making for many a compelling listen.