Sono Luminus Releases New Album HE(A)R From Iceland's Nordic Affect

Sono Luminus Releases New Album HE(A)R From Iceland's Nordic Affect

Sono Luminus announces the October 26, 2018 worldwide release of He(a)r, the third album on the label from Icelandic ensemble Nordic Affect, following the group's acclaimed 2017 Raindamage recorded with producer Valgeir Sigurðsson and their 2015 debut Clockworking, which was featured on NPR's Songs We Love on The New Yorker's best-of-year list. He(a)r features seven world premiere recordings of works written for the group by five women composers - a soundscape by the group's artistic director, composer and violinist Halla Steinunn Stefa?nsdo?ttir, which lends its title He(a)r to the album; Reflections and Impressions by Anna Thorvaldsdottir; Spirals and Loom by Mari?a Huld Markan Sigfu?sdo?ttir (of the band amiina); Warm life at the foot of the iceberg by Mirjam Tally, and Point of Departure by cellist, singer, and composer Hildur Guðnado?ttir. Nordic Affect is four Icelandic women musicians: Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir, violin and voice; Gudrún Hrund Hardardóttir, viola and voice; Hanna Loftsdóttir, cello voice; and Gudrún Óskarsdóttir, harpsichord and voice. The idea for the album originated in a concert that Nordic Affect gave at Nordic Music Days, which drew on the group's ecosystemic approach to performing and featured music with links to the natural landscape and acoustics.

Stefa?nsdo?ttir says of the album, "He(a)r is an ode to hear, here, he?r (the Icelandic word for here) and her. It springs from treasured collaborations with each other and with these composers that have allowed us to 'send sound and receive sound,' as Pauline Oliveros says. We now extend it to you, this meditation on embodiment, acoustics, and ecology. An album which rides on the wave of questions that rise and rise - Whose sounds? Whose bodies? Whose voices?"

Nordic Affect has been hailed as a "multi-disciplinary force of nature" (A Closer Listen), as a "gem in Iceland's music life" (Fréttablaðið), and for "ineffable synergy between the performers" (San Francisco Classical Voice). Founded in 2005, Nordic Affect has created a highly unique voice, which has earned the group international recognition. In 2013 the ensemble was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize and was named Performer of the Year at the Iceland Music Awards in 2014. Nordic Affect toured the U.S. for the first time in spring 2017, performing at the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Reykjavík Festival, National Sawdust in New York, Constellation Chicago, and at Berkeley Art Museum's Full series. The group was recently awarded a touring grant from MidAtlantic Arts Foundation for a second U.S. tour in spring 2020. Its members have individually performed and recorded with artists and groups such as Concerto Copenhagen, The Six Tones, Anima Eterna Brugge and Bjo?rk.

Starting with its debut album in 2007, Nordic Affect's recording projects have spanned newly discovered early music to first releases of music written for the ensemble. Nordic Affect's performances can be found on the Deutsche Grammophon, Bad Taste Records, Musmap, Brilliant Classics and Sono Luminus labels. In 2015, Nordic Affect's album Clockworking was released by Sono Luminus. Clockworking received various accolades and was featured as Album of the Week on New York Public Radio and KING FM's Second Inversion. The title track was chosen for NPR's Songs We Love and featured in various best-of-the-year lists, including The Chicago Reader and The New Yorker. In spring 2017, Nordic Affect released Raindamage, an album resulting from a collaboration between the group and producer Valgeir Sigurðsson. The album was nominated for the Iceland Music Award and Kraumur Prize and was featured in various best-of-the-year lists including The Chicago Reader, 5:4 and AnEarful.

About the Music on He(a)r

He(a)r by Halla Steinunn Stefa?nsdo?ttir is a soundscape connected to ecology, acoustics and embodiment; drawing on encounters and what happens in the connection. The piece is woven throughout the album, interspersed between each track. The performers are Carina Ehrenholm (Sweden), Angela Rawlings (Iceland/Canada), Halla Steinunn Stefa?nsdo?ttir (Iceland) and Liv Kaastrup Vesterskov (Denmark). Text for the piece was extracted from writings and digital works by Angela Rawlings (In Memory: Jo?kull, Jo?klar) as well as by Roni Horn, Pauline Oliveros, R. Murray Schafer, David Suzuki, Bruce Chatwin, Halla Steinunn Stefa?nsdo?ttir, Bernhard Leitner, Heidi Fast, Robert Macfarlane, and Salome? Voegelin. He(a)r was directed and composed by Halla Steinunn Stefa?nsdo?ttir at Inter Arts Center in Malmo?, Sweden.

Mari?a Huld Markan Sigfu?sdo?ttir's Spirals is the third in her trilogy of compositions created for Nordic Affect, which includes Sleeping Pendulum andClockworking, all revolving around the concept of time. She says, "In Spirals, dense chords, a lost cadence, sounding through an old piano and fragmented sounds from old music boxes are the original departure points that the piece revolves around. These spirals are not precise or mathematical, they refer to time and musical motion."

The title Warm life at the foot of the iceberg is taken from Estonian poet Kristiina Ehin, whose poetry has frequently inspired Estonian composer Mirjam Tally. Tally says, "I think this title describes well the character and technique of this work: contrasts between 'cold' airy colors in high register plus rustle, and rhythmic 'rocky' sections, sometimes performed with extra pressure; and gliding between these two contrasting worlds. Like a melting iceberg, unstable on the ground, rapidly vanishing." Tally's music has been performed in over 20 countries and earned her numerous accolades, including a 2018 Manifest Award (Sweden's Indie Grammys).

He(a)r features Reflections (written for Nordic Affect in 2016) and Impressions (written for Guðru?n O?skarsdo?ttir in 2015) by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, whose works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions - most notably, she is the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work Dreaming, the New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer Award in 2015, and Lincoln Center's 2018 Emerging Artist Award and 2018 Martin E. Segal Award. Thorvaldsdottir frequently works with large sonic structures that reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflecting her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Her music portrays a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere.

Point of Departure by cellist, composer, and singer Hildur Guðnado?ttir is a continuation of her solo violin work 2 Circles, found on Nordic Affect'sClockworking album. She says, "In Point of Departure I continue to explore the delicate relationship between a person and her instrument, with the addition of the tuning together with other musicians and their voices. The musicians need to play as one instrument. One voice." Guðnado?ttir has been at the forefront of experimental pop and contemporary music, with the band mu?m as well as as a soloist and collaborator. Her output has encompassed four solo albums, and numerous works for theater, dance, and film.

Mari?a Huld Markan Sigfu?sdo?ttir's Loom is inspired by the device used to weave cloth and tapestry and was originally created as an audio and video composition for Nordic Affect, the video component authored by visual artist Dodda Maggy?. She says, "The basic purpose of any loom is to hold the warp threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the weft threads. Loom draws on structural qualities found in both musical and visual composition, in an attempt to find a balance and a dialog between the aural and the visual. In accordance with the hybrid practices of the 21st-century, the audio and video of Loom can be performed jointly or shared as independent works."

More about Nordic Affect: Believing that music knows no boundaries, Nordic Affect has brought its musicmaking to contemporary and rock audiences alike and performed to critical acclaim at festivals such as TRANSIT Festival (BE), Dark Music Days (IS), November Music (NL), Ska?u Mes (LV), Iceland Airwaves (IS), Ensems Festival (SP), North Atlantic Flux (UK) and Estonian Music Days (EE). Currently in residence at Dark Music Days, Iceland's leading contemporary festival, the ensemble's upcoming project at DMD features a collaboration with celebrated performer and composer Maja Ratkje. This winter will also see the group featured in the European Broadcasting Service's special Christmas broadcast with the project To Home. The commissioning and performance of new works is integral to Nordic Affect's mission as it has, from the group's inception, combined new compositions with the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Believing that exciting things happen "in the connection," Nordic Affect has through the years established exciting collaborative relationships with composers, visual artists and producers. Nordic Affect is also a participant in the Iceland Music Information Centre's professional development program for young composers. In addition, the group's concert series in Reykjavík has been a platform for educational programming and presented many first performances in the country, be it of music by Telemann or 21st century composers. Their mission to spotlight to women's role in music history has led to projects such as HÚN/SHE which was broadcast by the European Broadcasting Service in 2015.

He(a)r | Nordic Affect | Sono Luminus | Release Date: October 26, 2018 | Total time: 60:26

1. He(a)r: I by Halla Steinunn Stefa?nsdo?ttir [0:18]

2. Spirals by Mari?a Huld Markan Sigfu?sdo?ttir [7:48]

3. He(a)r: II [1:45]

4. Warm life at the foot of the iceberg by Mirjam Tally [8:22]

5. He(a)r: III [0:53]

6. Reflections by Anna Thorvaldsdottir [9:28]

7. He(a)r: IV [1:15]

8. Impressions by Anna Thorvaldsdottir [7:47]

9. He(a)r: V [2:03]

10. Point of Departure by Hildur Guðnado?ttir [7:48]

11. He(a)r: VI [1:29]

12. Loom by Mari?a Huld Markan Sigfu?sdo?ttir [8:31]

13. He(a)r: VII [2:50]

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