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The Story of Iceland

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Album Review

Violinist/composer Eyvind Kang seems to take his time and try to do something distinct with each album — from the noisy, quick-change collages of 7 NADEs to the mellower, more song-based instrumentals of theater of mineral NADEs — and this CD is something else again. Its centerpiece, "The Story of Iceland," is a five-part, 30-minute suite that brings together elements of minimalism, quietly droning soundscapes, and various world music strains (without any of the "icy" imagery or wind noises one might expect, given the title). It is built on a simple six-note motif that first shows up in "Circle of Fair Karma," a sort of oriental funeral march with tuba, violin, trumpet, martial snare drumming, and Uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes). The theme shows up later in the Indian-flavored "Sweetness of Candy" and again in the marimba/oud/acoustic guitar finale, "Circle of Fair Karma." "The Story of Iceland" is followed by the entirely different-sounding "10:10," a sort of psychedelic rock song with David Bowie-esque singing and swirling cymbal effects; this track repeats the same three-chord progression and main vocal part for the entire ten minutes, meanwhile continually layering other parts on top. The album closes with a short gamelan piece that, while again totally different in terms of style, does in fact tie in with the record's unstated minimalist theme. Like theater of mineral NADEs but unlike 7 NADEs, The Story of Iceland hides its perversity and strangeness underneath a peaceful surface. Also like that album, it maintains, through all of its stylistic detours, a peculiar and unsettling atmosphere that clearly bears Kang's stamp.


Born: 1971 in Corvallis, OR

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Violist/violinist Eyvind Kang is from Seattle, where he studied music at Cornish College for the Arts in addition to studying violin with Michael White. In 1994, Kang received an Artist Support Program grant (by the Jack Straw Foundation) and used it to record the first seven of his series of musical compositions called "NADEs." 7 NADEs was released on the Tzadik label in 1996, followed two years later by his Theater of Mineral Nades. Using structures similar to those of classical music, and conventions...
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The Story of Iceland, Eyvind Kang
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