Steinunn Harðardóttir is an artist. She makes music, she paints, and she is seemingly surrounded by a light golden aura of happiness that I swear I’ve seen regardless of whether she was on stage or in the crowd watching someone else perform. Her music reflects this in the high, innocent pitch of her voice and the frequent appearances of cats and outer space in her lyrics. In interviews she makes it clear that this happiness comes from viewing the world is absurd. Which, of course, it is. Most people are bummed out at a thought like that. But not her. That absurdity is a source of freedom.
Atlantis is a myth. It was first mentioned in the works of Plato, written down almost 2,400 years ago. There are those who believe Atlantis was more than simply a fictional utopia Plato used as a means of teaching his lesson, taking the position that the philosopher’s work is actually a piece of history and that Atlantis once existed back in the mists of time. The theories believe the Atlantians to have been part of an advanced human pre-history or, in more recent years with the popularity of the UFO movement, space aliens. Perhaps most importantly, though, the city serves as a source of inspiration for artists and unfortunately strip mall psychics, who for $20 will read your palm and tell you that you’re the reincarnation of a great Atlantian warrior. I wonder if they had cats there…
Our Atlantis opens with “The Sphinx”, the early portions of the track transporting us to Egypt with Persian-influenced jazz, sitting in a dark bar that feels impossibly hot and humid, the scent of syrupy coffee and unfiltered cigarettes simply hanging just below the ceiling in bluish clouds before turning into mist that permeates everything. Wait. That got strange quick. Snap out of it, man. As we progress the beats change, throwing off their warm deserty vibe and becoming cold and clinical, dance floor bangers, with Steinunn’s voice flying way overhead, like the clouds above the pulsing, roiling ocean. The ocean that today covers Atlantis. Or so the story goes.
Surprises are always waiting around the next corner whenever DJ Flugvél Og Geimskip is involved. Like “Elsta lag í heimi”‘s highs and lows being invaded intermittently by a sic-fi midrange that pops in with the suddenness of the USS Enterprise dropping out of warp, only to disappear again just as quick. Are these people who live in Atlantis aliens who arrived from space on a starship? Or the scolding vocals on “Allt er bara bull” that rip you away from her soprano and drop you back into reality for a moment. Am I in trouble? Did I forget to take out the trash? Did I forget to use the new cover sheet on my TPS report? Oh, and I did I mention that the first song, the previously mentioned “The Sphinx”, was premiered by means of a video game that Steinunn made and posted for free on the internet? You know the one. The completely psychadelic bizarro-fest that finds you trying to find animals while fighting off enemies with your one means of a defense, a battle-axe made from a Pomeranian. Wait, you haven’t played it yet?? Well, here you go. And don’t say I didn’t warn you. That Pomeranian can do some damage.
The second half of Our Atlantis is darker. Is the city falling into decay, starting it’s slide to oblivion that will eventually find it at the bottom of the ocean? “Atlantis” with it’s ever-changing and unpredictable flow makes us off-balanced, our footing not as solid as it was. “Let’s Go!” kicks in and Steinunn is getting insistent – let’s go! – before dropping into a Metropolis-esque set of industrial beats, everything growing dark and dangerous, with lasers cutting through the air and leaving behind the scent of ozone, the complete anthesis of the aroma of that Egyptian bar we found ourselves in at the start of the album. But wait, what’s that I hear in the distance on “Our World Is Way Too Big”? That Persian influence is back, not jazzy this time but more electric. We close the side with “Apocalypse”. Is that a harmonica I hear? Of course it is. I’m pretty sure one of the Four Horsemen (♠) plays the harmonica on his way to level your city and dump it under the Atlantic.
Experience tells me that DJ Flugvél Og Geimskip isn’t for everyone, but I can’t get enough of her music and live performances.
(♠) To clarify, I’m referring here to The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations. This is not to be confused with The Four Horsemen of professional wrestling fame, Ric Flair’s personal hit squad.