Hildur Gudnadottir - Without Sinking [CD]

CD - 10 tracks - 47.8 Minutes

Track Listing:

1. Elevation 2. Overcast 3. Erupting Light 4. Circular 5. Ascent 6. Opaque 7. Aether 8. Whiten 9. Into Warmer Air 10. Unveiled

Composed and recorded by Hildur Ingveldardóttir Guðnadóttir in Berlin and Reykjavík Hildur played cello, zither, processors and voice Additional recordings by Skúli Sverrisson, bass and processors on all tracks except track 7 Jóhann Jóhannsson, organs and processors on tracks 2, 3 and 9 Guðni Franzson, clarinet and bass clarinet on tracks 7 and 10

Cello made by David Wiebe in 1991. Cello nr 49 


Strange Glue (UK):

If there was any genre or type of music which we could somehow mix into liquid form and then hook it up to an I.V for direct, main artery infusion, it would most definitely be something instrumental. Perhaps an L.P picked from the very pinnacle of post-rock or maybe just a solemn, down-tempo record that’s wordless and unobtrusive.

Or maybe it would be this very album.

Without Sinking is one of the most remarkable instrumental records to ever grace our ears and we do not say this lightly: it really is something extraordinary. Each and every moment held on the album is as inspiring as it is sparse; as atmospheric as it is deep. There’s not a single second where the music isn’t creeping all over the body of the listener and making each and every hair stand steadfastly erect. Forget about the normal constraints of music, they do not apply here, nor are they welcome.

To put in perspective just how absorbing and immersive the music is, a phone rang whilst we were in the process of reviewing the album. There was jumping, swearing and was extreme annoyance aimed directly at the person on the other end of the phone. How dare they interrupt this hallowed journey! It’s almost like a hallucinogenic drug (one that you could hook up to an IV or something...).

There’s no need for these 'songs' to go anywhere because they defy the basic requirements of the very word 'song'. There is no 'song' to speak of, nor any lyrics or direct rhythm, no beginning, middle or end; no chorus/verse/chorus structure. There’s none of it, nada.

It is instead one steady stream of music and a display of instrumental talent which delves into the visual side of the consciousness as well as the sonic side. It could be the icy pickings of a string which conjure thoughts and dreams of snow-laden rooftops or a flute and cello gently riding on each other’s zephyr which stirs a forgotten emotion or memory.

Each poignant note that emanates from your speakers is there to provoke something from within and take the listener on a voyage to an unknown, occasionally unsettling place where music is the water, the air and the landscape which surrounds you.

It may seem like we’re getting very Zen on you but it’s impossible to describe an album of this calibre in any other way. We could attempt at breaking down each track and point fingers at favourites but it would be to the detriment of the very reason that this album exists in the first place: it’s not here to be dissected and scrutinized by some pretentious writer with a penchant for obscenities. It’s here to show the planet what sound is capable of, it’s here to personify and teach, to inspire and set a bar for what music should be.

When mood, atmosphere, emotion, visuals, instruments, creativity and imagination are all pulled off to this degree, it’s hard to want to return back to the real world, so perhaps there’s a warning to take heed of here. Well, there could be, but we’re too busy listening to care… [Brad Kelly]

Boomkat (UK):

Hildur Gudnadottir is a gifted cellist with an impressive history of collaborations that includes work with Pan Sonic, Throbbing Gristle, Johann Johannsson, Skúli Sverrisson and Ben Frost among many others, as well as being a member of Iceland's notable Kitchen Motors collective. She first came to our attention on Pan Sonic's epic 'Katodivaihe' album from a couple of years back, her intense, blackened cello adding another dimension to Vainio and Väisänen's icy tundras. "Without Sinking" (her second solo album and first for the Touch label) is, however, by far the most cohesive and engrossing release of her career to date. It's not often that sales notes offer much by way of an insight into the real thought process or inspiration behind an album, but Gudnadottir's description of many hours spent on flights around the world looking at clouds really does encapsulate the atmosphere and semi-opaque wonder of these recordings. "I wanted to have open space for single notes and let them breath, like single clouds in a clear sky. As a contrast I also wanted create denser and heavier compositions which were more thundercloud like. I like the way clouds form, how many tiny droplets can form such dense forms and then slowly evaporate into thin string-like forms." The sound Gudnadottir's cello makes paints these mysterious landscapes with an almost mystical purity, opening track "Elevation", for example, manages to outline an increasingly intense, almost mournful picture with seemingly simple layering techniques and barely perceptible processes submerged by the pregnant sound of Gudnadottir's hugely evocative instrument. But the album also includes contributions from a number of guests - most notably Johann Johannsson, Skúli Sverrisson and even Hildur's father Guðni Franzson, with tracks like "Aether" introducing Harp and wind instruments with a gentle economy that's so fragile and simple it's just nothing short of heart-stopping. The album closes with the dense "Unveiled", an ominous drone undulation steered by those cautious, towering strings and barely perceptible found sounds. It's the space between the notes, the restraint and expectation, that packs the biggest emotional punch on this incredibly moving recording, never allowing those 'cinematic' qualities to get in the way of the genuine dread and catharsis resting at the core of this utterly magnificent album. Amazing music.

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Hildur Gudnadottir - Without Sinking [CD]

MP3 sample

Track 3:  Erupting Light

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