Islandica, their name deriving from the Latin form for ‘Icelandic’, emerged from that country in the 90s as one of a new wave of traditional/folk bands giving Scandinavia a new critical reputation. As the Reykjavik band’s singer and bass player Hardis Hallvarosdottir elucidated, ‘Three of us were in a loose grouping before Islandica, but a few years ago we decided to push into a market we’d identified for folk music.’ Together the quartet devised a combination of folk rock akin to Steeleye Span, traditional melodies and ‘quints’ - songs where two voices co-exist in parallel, with one holding the melody and the other weaving beneath it. Their debut album was recorded in a Reykjavik church during a thunderstorm and included age-old cultural verses as well as ballads and Nordic drinking songs. Enormously popular, it led to solo albums by three of the quartet which were also major sellers in Iceland. Extensive touring engagements were also undertaken, with sponsorship by Icelandic air lines and the National Tourist Board.
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