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Leyfdu Ljosinu

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Album Review

Cellist and singer Hildur Guðnadóttir has worked with an impressively broad range of musicians over the years, writing choral arrangements for Throbbing Gristle (yes, you read that right), touring with Animal Collective, collaborating directly with groups like the Hafler Trio, Nico Muhly, and Ben Frost. Leyfðu Ljósinu, however, is a completely solo project. Guðnadóttir has created a strange, beautiful, and slightly frightening composition for this rather brief album. First, she plays an entirely acoustic, four-minute-long "Prelude" composed of sustained cello tones (which sound as if they've been minimally looped using a delay mechanism). Then, for the half-hour-long title track, she does something similar, but with a major difference: this time using the looping or delay mechanism much more aggressively, she begins with a few layers of sustained cello tones and quiet (possibly wordless, but it's hard to say) vocals, creating a soft cloud of grey timbres and pitch arrangements that move through a slow harmonic progression. For the first 15 minutes, the musical texture remains open and almost ethereal. During the second half, the cello lines become deeper, rougher, and more aggressive, piling up on each other relentlessly until all apparent harmonic movement ceases and the soft grey clouds become portentous thunderheads. It wouldn't be exactly accurate to say that the tension builds during this second half of the piece — there's no harmonic tension, anyway — but the intensity surely does. By the end, the listener is both disconcerted and somewhat exhilarated.

Leyfdu Ljosinu, Hildur Gudnadottir
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