A couple of months ago I ordered a bunch of stuff from Reykjavik’s Lucky Records, and in addition to what I specifically ordered my buddy Gestur included a few random selections for my listening enjoyment. One of these was Vafasamur Lífsstíll 2015–2016, a CD collection of 15 tracks from the Icelander techno-artist Kuldaboli. And right from the opening beats of the first track “Alvarleiki ástandsins” my jaw was left ajar as my brain melted into the rich sonic density of the thick curtain of vibro-sound coming from my speakers. And Kuldaboli didn’t let up for another 70 or so minutes, leaving my mind a smoldering ruin and completely changing my thoughts about what was possible within the space-time continuum. Suddenly string theory made sense and I could see how everything in the universe was interconnected. Because those beats… those beats…
I don’t know much about Kuldaboli, other than that he’s from Iceland. Does the rest matter? Would I like him more if I learned he was a music student, or a lawyer, or liked to dress as a clown in his free time? So I’m just going to let the music stand on its own merits.
I can’t speak to Kuldaboli’s influences, but there are familiar threads within his music. Some of the tracks are dense and modern, while others like “Yuri Gargarin” harken back to the best of late 1970s/early 1980s synthwave. Meanwhile “Blikur á lofti” reminds of the intro to the TV show Law And Order and “Leyndardómar Frímúrarareglunnar” is like a dance track laid over an 8-bit video game soundtrack. It’s not all fun and games, though; at times Kuldaboli can get downright creepy, not only with some darker beats but also through some of the modulated vocalizations that will make you convinced that doll sitting in the chair in the corner just blinked and is now staring straight into your soul (I’m looking at you, “Erindi Um Nótt”).
If Vafasamur Lífsstíll 2015–2016 had come out in 2017, it would definitely be in my Top 5 new releases for the year so far. But alas, it dropped at the end of 2016 and I’m only just now getting around to hearing it. That doesn’t in any way detract from from the brilliance of its sonic density, however.
– Jeff Obermeyer