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Monday, November 10, 2008

Rökkurró @ 12 Tónar Record Store (Off-Venue)

And now the band that is responsible for me going to Iceland Airwaves in the first place. Those bastards...

Rökkurró playing inside 12 Tónar (ultra hi-fi binaural manikin head in foreground):

Album: Það kólnar í kvöld...

This quintet melds warm contemplative candlelit dynamics with jazzy syncopated tapestries as they swap instruments and create interesting contrasts of mood, often sounding more cinematic ensemble than rock quintet.

Meaning of the Name
For those of us who don't speak Icelandic it might seem their name is merely some Icelandified version of "Rockers" or something like that. Though, this is not even close. In fact, "Rökkurró" is the combination of 2 Icelandic words with much deeper meaning:

Rökkur (sunset / twilight) + (quiet / calm) = Rökkurró

This basically describes the time of day when the sun is setting and everything seems calm and relaxed.

How apt: I couldn't believe how perfectly fitting a title this seemed to be for their unique sound after thinking it was some derivative of "Rock___" for so long.

Impressions of the Rökkurró Sound:
Indeed, like a setting sun, the bright warm vocals seem to cast beautifully long winter shadows, with their internal dialogue of swooning cello, while conversing with the rich smoldering accordion lines. These tender but elegantly reasoned lines seamlessly mesh with the integral guitars that vary from tonally rich chords and arpeggiation to jazzy-surf counterpoint and even ethereal textures that all sum to create the underlying harmonic backbone-often adorned with sweet glockenspiel.

Bonding these elements together is the sleek dark bass that is at once exacting and particular in highlighting the overall harmonic direction and relating it to the often nuanced syncopation of the unifying percussion that cleverly reminds: the drum set is indeed a melodic instrument. The carefully crafted drum patterns ebb and flow-sometimes recursive and subtly phased while, at other times, Rock. While there are legions of groups who anchor their paradigm on shock, Rökkurró have somehow reinvented awe.

Reykjavik - Clearing Thursday Weather:

The Scene:
The cozy space in 12 Tónar was packed wall-to-wall. People overflowed to the entry stairs but, listening to the recording, you'd probably think there was no crowd at all because everyone was so quiet and attentive. The set list includes songs from their release Það kólnar í kvöld... (English: "There's a chill in the air tonight...") as well as a new song. I would highly recommend checking this album out: you will not be disappointed.

Off-venue: 12 Tónar (best record shop ever)
Reykjavik, Iceland
2008, October 16, 17:00

(Use Headphones for All Recordings)
Iceland Airwaves 2008 - Rökkurró at 12 Tónar by BinauralAirwaves

Binaural Recording Info:
Microphone Setup: Ultra Hi-Fi Binaural Manikin Head
Master Recording Format: 88.2kHz/24bit

This is chronologically out of order with the rest of my posts but I couldn't resist since it was easily one of my favorite Iceland Airwaves concerts plus I have 2 other concert recordings of Rökkurró. So, I figured I'd spread them out.

I hope you'll enjoy rehearing their 12 Tónar concert as much as I have. As I said, Rökkurró and their music are really responsible for drawing me to Iceland to make these recordings. And since I have enjoyed their music so much I am compelled to give a heartfelt personal stamp of approval and recommendation for their album because it is really quite sublime. Check it out: Það kólnar í kvöld...