Valgeir Sigurðsson: Ekvílibríum
Bedroom Community

Valgeir Sigurðsson: the name is hardly familiar though the work is—production work, that is, for the likes of Björk, Bonnie ‘Prince' Billy, and Cocorosie. Now the Bedroom Community label head steps out with his first solo album, with a little help from Bonnie ‘Prince' Billy, Faun Fables' Dawn McCarthy, and J. Walker (aka Machine Translations).

Typically alternating vocal and instrumental pieces, Sigurðsson wraps his songs in sparkling arrangements filled with strings, vibes, and (simulated) harps that bespeak a remarkable attention to detail and a certifiably deft production hand (e.g., the immaculate, see-sawing “Focal Point”). Certainly he wastes no time in establishing himself when the memorable opener, “A Symmetry,” lurches into position with a glitchy, bass-heavy groove that resembles some simulacrum of Luomo and Vladisav Delay, and then blossoms into a multi-layered construction graced by brilliant harp-like melodies. Soon thereafter, J. Walker 's voice floats nicely over a dreamy, Sigur Rós-like backing in “Baby Architect” while “Winter Sleep” exudes the kind of dramatic sweep characteristic of the Icelandic outfit. “Equilibrium is Restored” perpetuates the placid mood by weaving low droning tones and the tinkle of a processed celesta into a grandiose dreamscape. Billy's unaffected vocal provides a natural counterpoint to the orchestrally rich arrangement of strings, vibes, and piano that cascades throughout “Evolution of Waters.” Near album's end, Sigurðsson embeds Billy's vocal in a stirring sea of strings in “Kin” but the song's most notable for its ravishing melodic shifts. As beautiful as it is, it's trumped by the rapturous finale “Lungs, For Merrilee”—a definitive testament to his composing gifts. By any standard, Ekvílibríum must be considered a remarkably accomplished debut.

August 2007