Ölvis: Bravado

It's telling that Orlygur Thor Orlygsson's ‘Ölvis' moniker is actually pronounced ‘Elvis,' given that the Icelander sings in a husky croon that only tangentially recalls the Memphis icon. But there's little in common otherwise, as Orlygsson favours an epic ballad style so smothered in reverb and haze it takes on an hallucinatory character—an entrancing, orchestral mutation of lounge, early rock'n'roll, and shoegaze, if you will; “Space Mission,” for one, could be a prototypical Roy Orbison lament updated for the 23 rd century. Bravado offers fourteen instrumental and vocal variations on the theme, with Orlygsson murmuring in his native tongue on about half the tracks and fashioning dramatic instrumental settings elsewhere. Of the latter, organ flourishes and waves of hazy ripples drone throughout “War Chant” while “Merge with the Infinite” caps the disc like a shimmering soundtrack for a shuttle's slow-motion sojourn to Mars.

With the material on Orlygsson's third album often founded upon two wavering chords (e.g., “Song For Love”), the songs themselves are relatively simple in compositional structure but achieve impact through their multi-layered construction. While the ‘Ölvis' persona is dominant, the album's substantially bolstered by the contributions of Sigur Rós drummer Orri Dýrason and bassist Georg Holm, and Apparat Organ Quintet's Arnar Geir Ómarsson and Amina's Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir who add percussion and violin respectively.

April 2007