12

Ingi Bjarni Skúlason: Skarkali

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Prediction: pianist/composer Ingi Bjarni Skulason and his music will eventually end up on ECM. This is not because he is from Iceland, but rather that he, even at his young age, has a fully developed, recognizable style.

Skarkali, which literally means "loud noises," is a piano trio recording that is anything but noise, and is delicately intense (or intensely delicate) rather than loud. Supported by bassist Valdimar Olgeirsson and drummer Óskar Kjartansson, Skúlason's compositions unfold as dramatic stories, mixing the feel and harmonies of Icelandic folk music with that of jazz improvisation and modern driving rhythms.

The result is completely unpredictable not only from track to track, but also within each track. The arrangements show that Skúlason knows what he is doing as he builds architectural structures that rise up, grow and expand only to shift and dart in a different direction when least expected. This music is paradoxically enigmatic while being direct, intimate while feeling wide open and superficially beautiful while exploring harsh landscapes.

His playing is clear and crisp, with each note given deep meaning. Bobo Stenson comes naturally to mind in the space given each note. This deep, clear sound is echoed by the harmonies chosen, which sound simple, but are full of ambiguity. Although his music is highly emotional, it is constrained by a deep intelligence which produces a wonderful sense of playful control. Olgeirsson and Kjartansson enhance, support and develop the inherent tension in Skúlason's compositions in that the bass is melodic and grand as it underpins the piano's left hand, while the drums are full of energy and high spirits, always driving the music forward.

The extremely focused, direct and dry sound of the record is perfect for this music in that the clarity allows the music to speak for itself.

Skúlason is already a masterful musician, and Skarkali is a remarkable document of what is going to be a career to watch closely.

Track Listing: Virkar ("It works"); Fals ekki vals ("False not waltz" - dedicated to people who don't dance waltz); Á hálum ís ("On slippery ice"); Erfiðleikum gæddur ("To have troubles"); Hollands Spoor (a train station in the Netherlands); Hug minn allan ("With all my mind"); Í innsta hring ("In the innest circle"); Smásagnasafn á repeat ("Short story collection on repeat"); Heyra meira ("Hear more").

Personnel: Ingi Bjarni Skúlason: piano; Valdimar Olgeirsson: bass; Óskar Kjartansson: drums.

Title: Skarkali | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Live In The South Bronx" CD/LP/Track Review Live In The South Bronx
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Bring Joy" CD/LP/Track Review Bring Joy
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "The Source" CD/LP/Track Review The Source
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "Media vita" CD/LP/Track Review Media vita
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 10, 2017
Read "Taylor Street" CD/LP/Track Review Taylor Street
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell" CD/LP/Track Review Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 28, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.