Hildur Guðnadóttir

Mount A

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This album features strings and subtle electronics -- not beats, but almost subsonic drones, lurking behind violins and cellos, which are producing overtones themselves as their long notes ring out and blend with each other. It's instrumental music that sets up and sustains a foreboding mood, like the soundtrack to a highly polished film about Men with Secrets. Listening to it through headphones will make a person start glancing over his or her shoulder, to make sure there's no one lurking in the shadows. It has an arctic starkness, too, clearly the product of Iceland, minus any of the quirkiness that shows up in that country's rock acts like Björk and Sigur Rós. Track titles like "Shadowed" and "In Gray" tell the tale; this is post-Górecki music, minus the spiritual uplift. It's not depressing, though; instead, it has a hypnotic effect, the powerful drones mingling like crosscurrents in the ocean. When faster, upper-register passages emerge, like the violin line that opens "Shadowed," it's surprising, because everything that's come before has been so low, almost rumbling. Similarly, the use of bells on "In Gray" add an element of meditative beauty that draws the listener in even more deeply. This is quite beautiful music, recommended to audiences beyond classical circles.

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