Summoning the Light: Sóley @ A38

I had sat down in front of the computer intent on writing this review as quickly as I could, riding the wave of fresh impressions, which usually work best- the more you think about the concert the more it will become something you remember, instead of something you experienced. And we all know memory can play strange tricks. This being said, I spent the next perhaps hour or so raiding Sóley’s Facebook page- I would like to say that I was attracted by the interviews and music, but let’s be honest, it was the outfits.

Musicians do of course try to visually underscore their music, but more often than not it’s about an artificial persona created to support their act- sometimes even changing from album to album, which, although perhaps a valid artistic process on certain levels, always teeters on the brink of the fake. What strikes you then is how natural Sóley looks in everything she’s wearing, even the green lipstick- that should be some sort of a superpower, but she pulls it off with so much grace that you start thinking maybe everyone in Iceland floats around like that, free of encumbering surnames, making great music while wearing outlandish colours on their lips.

For yes, that’s another thing- if you know a bit about the current musical scene, you’ll expect an Icelandic performer to sound in a certain way, with your mind set on its trajectory by Björk, the Goddess Supreme of Icelandic Cook, and Sigur Rós, those conjurers of sounds from the realm of the spheres. In which case you won’t be disappointed by Sóley.

That’s of course not to minimize her accomplishments- there’s nothing wrong at all with sounding like your scene if your scene happens to be great. She also brings her own elements to the mix- the sound is more stripped down, more basic than that of her perhaps more famous counterparts. Music of the spheres this is ultimately, but they are smaller, more domesticated spheres, perhaps the type of spheres which resemble those backyard sprites who most definitely roam around Iceland to this day (that’s a fact.) They also like to play with light bulbs turning them ablaze with their song before releasing them back into the darkness.

Fittingly, Sóley also has a crowd of faithful followers, most of them about the size of the above-mentioned sprites, which is wonderful since you can have a good shot at the stage even from a few rows back.  This is not to dismiss her as a girlie act- the number of grown men running away with prized items from the merchandise desk was quite mesmerizing in one of those rare cases when the queue for merch is longer than the queue for coats. And don’t blame that on spring, because we’d just had a biblical deluge a couple of hours earlier, so there were raincoats aplenty to be retrieved.

It’s just that, coming full circle a little here, the concert gave the definite impression that you are being offered something which is genuine, someone making music because they need to and they hope that what they do will make sense to others as well. And when she’s singing ethereally about an endless summer, it most definitely does.

That above paragraph ended pretty well and perhaps it should have been a fitting end note, but I must spare a few words for the opening act. Not necessarily because I was much enamoured by it, but because it always gives me a bad conscience to skip them for beers and crisps. So I dutifully trudged towards the stage during Josin’s bit and, well, I was close to the stage. She might actually hold some promise in the long run and cut a nice profile in the darkness of A38’s stage, but for the time being it was a bit of a bore fest in spite of looking like she tried real hard. That might have been the problem- music often turns out much better when played by someone who does it not because they want to, but because they must.

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