Who the hell is Hekla Magnúsdóttir? Well, she plays the theramin, and who doesn’t love the theramin?………………………. Don’t answer that.
If you had to categorise her debut release you might very well go for something like ‘Icelandic ambient’, but no, she doesn’t really fit in that, she produces rather haunting electronica overlayed with a delicate voice, haunting even. It’s a strange listen and and times there is a creepiness about it but there is also great beauty. For me, one of the key indicators of whether this album is any good or not is whether I’m constantly thinking “Teramin, Theramin, Theramin” all the time as I’m listening to it, and I don’t. Some of the sounds and transitions between notes are unusual but she plays the instrument with such skill that there is no suggestion that there is anything gimmicky here. Hekla is an extremely skilled musician who can make her instrument bend to her will.
Obvioulsy I’ve made some assumptions here, so just in case, here is a quick rundown on what a theramin is:
The theremin (/ˈθɛrəmɪn/; originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox) is an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It is named after its inventor, Léon Theremin (Лев Термен), who patented the device in 1928.
The instrument’s controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas that sense the relative position of the thereminist’s hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker.
The sound of the instrument is often associated with eerie situations. Thus, the theremin has been used in movie soundtracks such as Miklós Rózsa’s Spellbound and The Lost Weekend, Bernard Herrmann’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Justin Hurwitz’s First Man, as well as in theme songs for television shows such as the ITV drama Midsomer Murders. The theremin is also used in concert music (especially avant-garde and 20th- and 21st-century new music), and in popular music genres such as rock.
If you wanted to buy one you can pay as little as £40 but the go to instrument appears to be by Moog and it is about £300.
I bought the album a few weeks ago, it was discounted to about £11 I think from £20 ish and this is the thought process that made me decide to buy it:
It’s quite cheap, oh Icelandic, Theramin! It will be terrible or brilliant. I’ll get it.
|Heyr Himna Smiður||1:52|
|Ekki Er Allt Gull Sem Glóir||3:25|