Icelandic folk-star Asgeir’s In the Silence sees a magical combination of acoustic folk and electro-pop, blending into a distinct style, which, while drawing heavily on influences from other mainstream alt-folk acts, notably Bon Iver and Mumford and Sons, finds its own place in the genre. On first listen, I had found the album simply a collection of well-written, well-produced and well-constructed songs, with a nice variation in mood and pace, but without the music jumping off the page as hugely original. On further consideration, I confess to being charmed by Asgeir’s infusion of electronic elements, on a couple of tracks in particular, into his more general alt-folk sound.
In the Silence boasts a couple of stand-out songs, nestled among a demonstration of accomplished song writing and orchestration. The affecting opener, ‘Higher’, layered with ebbing and flowing backing vocals and rich piano chords, bursts sweetly into harmonies on “and later when//the sun shines down//deep as the fire//feast for the ears”, setting the tone nicely for what is to come. In the title track, he shows off his high end vocals to nice effect, winding his way up to a high B in the verse, a line later traced nicely by the brass. Here especially, his falsetto vocals, combined with the marching snare drums, ring strongly of Justin Vernon, and Bon Iver’s second album in particular.
The brilliant single, ‘King and Cross’, dances with a 3-4 rhythm, shifting from acoustic guitar in the intro and verses, to synth in the chorus; the latter blessed with a stunning melody. Dissonant synth lines after the choruses give the track an other-worldly feel, before falling into a more contented trumpet riff, which is then rejoined by the synth. The song is arguably the best representation of Asgeir’s melding of acoustic folk with electro-pop, before he sinks into the former with the next track, ‘Was There Nothing’, a gentle, beautiful little ditty.
A celebration of excellent song-writing, the album is also masterfully produced, with the brass striking the right balance between the rough and the overproduced, and the piano and guitar possessing a certain richness. With much depth and variety in its mood and pace, In the Silence is one to be enjoyed repeatedly, especially for its ethereal arrangements.