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Valgeir Sigurdsson - Balancing Act

Author: Daniel Findlay
Friday, 12 October 2007
You may not have heard of Valgeir Sigurdsson, but if you’re a fan of the Icelandic oeuvre then you’ve definitely heard his work. 3D’s Daniel Findlay got cosy.

If Valgeir Sigurdsson’s debut full length Ekvilibrium sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a very good reason for it. At 36, the Icelandic native has been at work behind the scenes on some of the most interesting and experimental music to come from the land of fire and ice in the last decade. His resume includes work with the likes of Bjork, Mum and Coco Rosie among others and his style has left an indelible mark on their productions. Part composer, part producer, Sigurdsson says when he finally got around to working on his own solo project, finding his own sound wasn’t a problem. As for the meaning behind the title, he’s succinct.

“It’s a lot of things I think. My own music versus making music with other people. And being a composer versus being a studio guy or a producer.” The veteran collaborator also admits that having guests on the album ranging from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Faun Fables' Dawn McCarthy and Machine Translations’ J Walker was all part of a very “natural” process that allowed him to pursue his own creative vision for the set.

The Icelandic/Australian connection between Sigurdsson and Walker was one of those natural moments that saw both parties release versions of the track Baby Architect. As Siggurdson remembers, “I came over to Australia for a writing workshop and I was put into the studio with four different people on four different days and the instructions were to basically write one song together. Baby Architect is one of the songs that came out of that and I was really happy with that song and felt that it had me in it as much as J. Walker.”

Tracking live for the majority of the album, Sigurdsson has learned much about studio technology since his days studying at London’s SAE, not least of all from working with one of Iceland’s most famous exports. There’s a smile in his voice as he discusses Bjork, “It’s amazing, very challenging, very exciting and rewarding. We’ve worked together for quite a long time. I was involved with four of her albums and yeah, I think it’s probably the period where I learned a lot of what I do.” As for her unique style, Sigurdsson is at as much of a loss as many other fans.

“I guess it’s hard to sum it up,” he laughs, “I think it’s the way that she works with people. It’s quite unusual and unique. Sometimes the way she describes her ideas or communicates her vision, it’s more in emotional terms rather than actual musical terms.”

Ekvilibrium rings with the kind of sounds we’ve come to expect from contemporary Icelandic music - warm strings, layered piano, ethereal voices, they’re all familiar elements, possibly thanks to Sigurdsson having been a part of many of the most successful Icelandic exports. For all that though, Ekvilibrium undoubtedly has its own soul and Valgeir Sigurdsson, concise as ever, can explain, “I guess there has been a sort of wave of Icelandic music but I don’t really consider my music part of any specific Icelandic scene.” Scene or not, Ekvilibrium and Sigurdsson solo are welcome additions to a growing catalogue of classy Nordic tunes.

WHO: Valgeir Sigurdsson
WHAT: Debut album Ekvílibríum out through Inertia
WHEN: Out now