La Blogothèque
Soirées de poche
#19

Hjaltalín

We promise – one of these days, we will organize a Pocket Party with a single musician. One. But while waiting for that day to come, let’s continue coming up with ideas that appear crazy when they are first heard and turn out to be absolutely bananas the day of the concert.

If my memories are correct: seven Icelanders came off a gigantic tour bus that still wasn’t big enough to carry all their gear (it was packed into a trailer). It took three taxis to transport all of it to Solal’s, who lived (of course) on a narrow street. Cases, cases and cases of gear: two keyboards, an full drum kit, a bass and amp, a violin and a bassoon, among other things. And this was nothing; Hjaltalín itself brought along a sense of emphasis, of excess.

We slip concerts into living-rooms, but they one-up us: they knit epic sagas in short pop songs, perform as if each musician played three instruments at once, create the grandeur, breath, and violence of opera even in their smallest arrangements. Listen closely; you are really experiencing what the people that night experienced…

Count the number of distinct tones produced by each instrument during a single song. Count the breaks, the bridges, the detours, the sudden turnarounds, and the tempo that spirals out of control, the improvised calypso and then the belligerent chorus. The songs last hours and are epic: both roomy and ambitious.

All this without taking into account a somber improvised ballad in the kitchen, a Gainsbourg cover, and a little French diddy that could have been in an old Eurovision episode. This singer (and what a singer at that) speaks French, you see.

It was little Solal, 14 years old, who welcomed us that night. He had convinced his parents, who had the good sense to invite the whole building. No one among the invitees was familiar with Hjaltalín. And by the end, all of them, everyone, was seduced. To discover this treasure alone made it completely worth stuffing all those taxis with all that of gear.