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coverpic flag Iceland - Full Moon 246 - 09/16/16

Pascal Pinon
Sundur
Morr Music

Pasqual Piñón (1889-1929), known as The Two-Headed Mexican, was a performer with the Sells-Floto Circus in the early 1900s. A railroad worker from Texas, Piñón was discovered by a sideshow promoter whose attention had been caught by a large benign cyst or tumor at the top of Piñón's head. The promoter drafted Piñón into his freak show and had a fake face made of wax to place onto the growth, allowing the claim that Piñón had two heads.' (Wikipeida)

Pascal Pinon are twin sisters Jófríður and Ásthildur, from Reykjavík, Iceland. The young sisters started the band in 2009 at the age of fourteen (!), and put out their self-titled, self-released debut. The following year they (now as a duo, since Halla and Kristín left the band) their debut album was re-launched by the excellent Berlin-based Morr label - home of fine acts like B. Fleischmann, Lali Puna, Ms. John Soda, Electric President (plus Radical Face's brilliant Ghost), ISAN, Tied & Tickled Trio, Styrofoam, plus others as well as Icelandic acts such as múm, Seabear, Sin Fang, and Sóley (from Seabear). From Pascal Pinon (2009/2010), via their second album, Twosomeness (2013), here's their third longplayer, Sundur.

'Sundur' is (of course) Icelandic - it's part of the proverb 'sundur og saman', meaning 'apart and together', which might be what's it like to be twins. Being apart, being together. Sundur is said to be, quoting Morr, the 'duo's rawest and yet most diverse musical statement within the frame of their Folk-influenced, minimalistic sound.' The calm and quiet, brittle and sparse pop songs are almost of some elf-like world. True fairy tales from the electronic folk field. If you like Sewden's First Aid Kit, you'll probably enjoy these Icelandic sisters as well. The piano driven opener, "Jósa & Lotta" sets the mood for this album of (twin sibling) separation and togetherness. The sisters spent a rare time apart, as Ásthildur went to Amsterdam studying classical piano and composition while Jófríður toured the world with her other band project, Samaris. 'We had never been apart our entire lives until we finished touring Twosomeness', Jófríður has stated. After a long song writing process (both separately as well together), Sundur was recorded in only two days(!), helped out (engineered by as well as adding 'scrap metal' percussion) by their composer-father, Áki Ásgeirsson. The slow pulse of "Forest" is pure magic, simply beautiful. In addition, there's even more to come. The entire album shows incredibly powerful song writing, or composition skills. Take "Babies", or "Skammdegi" - one of a few songs sung in Icelandic (it can be translated 'Be asahamed', or 'Beashamed'), or "Ást" ('To love'?), or "53", or the closing "Weeks". Jófríður describes the album's feel to be 'more real and raw... which is what it essentially is all about'.

The sound of Sundur is at times sacral, the music is almost transparent and see-through as the sisters have returned to the ultimate, naked recording process. Listening to Sundur during a few days stay in Iceland makes more sense. Somehow. Or, the island's harsh and breath-taking environment and nature is a perfect setting for listening to the songs. What's with the Icelandic, really? This small island, with a population of 325,000 - the artistic percentage seems to be amazingly high. The discreet instrumentation (piano, synths, guitar) plus the sparse rhythms adds a sometimes spooky backdrop to their incredibly fine voices. To quote their label, Sundur is a record 'which is as intimate as it is mature.' Tune in to the creative twins' magical, experimental world of sound. You will be amazed.

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