Those with keen eyes and ears trained with predatory focus on the musical output of Iceland probably clocked the true identity of new artist Högni straight away, because if you’re musically inclined and living in Iceland, chances are you’re involved in a number of musical projects, and Högni is no exception! Best known for his involvement with the legendary GusGus and as a frontman for the brilliant band Hjaltalín, Högni Eglisson may be fresh to striding out into the world using a mononym, but he’s certainly not new to composing music, and this is abundantly clear from the first few notes of his ‘debut’ single, the richly textured and ambitious ‘Komdu Með’. Back in 2014 when he curated a fantastic Nordic Playlist for us, we said “Every so often, a musician comes along with so many sides and facets to their musical abilities that you wonder if there’s anything they can’t do.”, and ‘Komdu Með’ reaffirms this statement completely.
Frantic beats build tension as a male voice choir ominously drones, slipping in and out of the foreground to increase foreboding and soothe in equal measure. As ever, Högni’s signature rasp never undermines or tempers the sweetness of his delivery but enhances it, and it’s this combination of dark and light which makes ‘Komdu Með’ such a compelling listen. Dark trills of electronics are paired with a cinematic sweep of strings, while the rattle of of discordant beat combinations accompanies the melody’s minor key meander, and it’s a perfect balance throughout. This is not the work of a freckle-faced kid, but a skilled master – Högni may technically be a new artist, but he’s not remotely new at what he does, and it shows.
Though it seems odd to be talking about the forthcoming album Two Trains as a debut, that’s exactly what it is. Conceived both as a concept record dedicated to a pair of ill-fated construction locomotives, the record also reflects directly on Högni’s own inner conflicts, describing it as “a blue-print of a period in my life where I collided with my own self“. Exploring the dichotomy between the personal and universal, Two Trains promises to be every bit as complex and engaging as ‘Komdu Með’ is.
Two Trains will be released on October 20th via Erased Tapes Records – pre-order it here, and check out ‘Komdu Með’ below.