Nordic Affect

He(a)r

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AllMusic Review by

Nordic Affect is an Icelandic quartet consisting of four women, all of whom also sing, and at least one of whom, Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir, is also a composer, writing the title work He(a)r (the title is a pun on the words "hear," "her," and the Icelandic word "hér," which means "hear"). That work has a prominent spoken-word part, and it's deployed not in a continuous performance but as a frame for the other works, on alternating tracks. With the composer as Nordic Affect's violinst, one is entitled to assume that she was on board with this idea, and it forms an instantly appealing contrast with the other music. The texts of the work are in English and pertain to sound and to environmental degradation, a theme that recurs in Mirjam Tally's instrumental Warm Life at the Foot of the Iceberg. Sample this for an idea of the other works, which are somewhat minimalist in flavor but have a harder edge than is generally connoted by that genre designation. Tally is the only non-Icelandic composer. Nordic Affect does not comprise the usual string quartet but rather the possibly unique combination of violin, viola, cello, and harpsichord, and the use of the latter, entirely divorced from its Baroque antecedents, is fascinating. Recommended not only for those interested in new directions in chamber music but for fans of Björk, with whom Nordic Affect has toured.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
He(a)r
1
I
0:19
2 7:48
He(a)r
3
II
1:45
4 8:22
He(a)r
5
III
0:53
6 9:28
He(a)r
7
IV
1:15
8 7:47
He(a)r
9
V
2:04
10 7:48
He(a)r
11
VI
1:29
12 8:31
He(a)r
13
VII
2:50

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
He(a)r
1
I
0:19
2 7:48
He(a)r
3
II
1:45
4 8:22
He(a)r
5
III
0:53
6 9:28
He(a)r
7
IV
1:15
8 7:47
He(a)r
9
V
2:04
10 7:48
He(a)r
11
VI
1:29
12 8:31
He(a)r
13
VII
2:50
blue highlight denotes track pick