Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson
So Long
CD HMS027


Brainwashed
February 2015

Sigmarsson's work with the Icelandic group Stilluppsteypa frequently showcases both absurdity and dissonance heavily, and while his own work bears traces of that, divorced from any imagery, has more of a dark quality to it. At times austere, but not at all devoid of humor, it is three long pieces that never become stagnant resulting in a gripping collection of tones and textures. The title of the album is undoubtedly related to the length of time it took to complete: recordings on here date back to 1998 but not completed until just last year. The first piece has Sigmarsson weaving together field recordings and the ambiance of idling machines, sometimes dissonant and sometimes melodic. It is on here that he especially showcases some dark, dramatic passages and textural spaces. The feel of the second section is not too dissimilar, beginning with a short lived metallic expanse. Much of the piece is constructed around complex, hollow humming noises that mimic that of air conditioners or heavy equipment, but treated to bring out different, almost musical qualities. Later on he brings in what sounds like a conventional synthesizer passage, bathed in distortion and noise. At this point the record seems to shift, with Sigmarsson bringing bits of music into the otherwise abstract space. Tones almost resemble otherworldly symphonies mixed with expansive field recordings, intangible yet impeccably composed. A passage of organ music is introduced in the closing minutes of this second segment, according to the liner notes titled the "garage days organ session" with Helgi Thorsson (of Stilluppsteypa) and frequent collaborator BJ Nilsen. It is at this point that the lighter, more absurdist moments of Sigmarsson's other work becomes apparent. This loose bit of organ improvisation drifts into the third and final piece, which is comparatively more static. It is not repetitive, but it stays more within a single dynamic and overall sound compared to the drastic jumps and variations that appeared before. Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson does not reinvent a genre or make drastic strides in the world of experimental electro acoustic composition on So Long. However, it is exceptional in the way he blends varying textures and noises, moods and spaces, into a constantly expanding and developing record. Any sort of narrative that he may be trying to convey is anything but obvious, but the content of the music itself was more than enough to sustain my interest. -- Creaig Dunton