Snorri Hallgrímsson


Release Notes

Label: Moderna
Release: Landbrot II
Date: November 19
Mastered By: Martyn Heyne

Yes, I have already premiered two tracks this week (see Plïnkï Plønkï and Resina), and yes, this is another premiere of a track, and yet it is immensely needed, wanted, and necessary during these somewhat anxious times. “Rjóður” comes from the Icelandic composer Snorri Hallgrímsson, whom I’ve profiled on many occasions before (see also his In the Studio with… feature), as well as celebrated for his film music, which has been backed by the wonderful Moderna Records (home to many fantastic modern classical and solo piano composers, such as Jacob David, Ed Carlsen, Tim Linghaus, Tambour, and even yours truly). This particular piece appears on Hallgrímsson’s second EP titled Landbrot II – the first having been released last November with five pieces, and now, a year later, with five more. “The collection takes its name from the location of Hallgrímsson’s family cabin in rural Iceland, which he describes as his ‘happy place’. Landbrot translates to erosion or ‘land fractures’, and from this, we can imagine the search for inner calm and acceptance amongst the many obstacles of daily life.

Rjóður is the Icelandic word for a clearing or glade, that moment when you’re walking through a thick forest and the trees suddenly clear and your field of vision opens. This is what I picture with this piece: the delicate piano melody meanders slowly and hopefully through the woods, eventually joined by a supporting walking companion in the strings. Together they come upon a beautiful ‘Rjóður’, and a sense of profound calm sets in. The piano fades, and the strings envelop us in their gentle arms.

— Snorri Hallgrímsson

The follow-up opens with more pensive chords, quietly resonating in a lush reverb courtesy of the piano’s soundboard. The slightly melancholy strings echo the piano’s sad harmony, at times with a transition into a major scale, but always with minimal effort and maximum heart. The reductionist melodies are reminiscent of works by Max Richter, the dearly missed Jóhann Jóhannsson, and Iceland’s fellow resident Ólafur Arnalds with whom Hallgrímsson has collaborated with in the past, including the BAFTA award-winning score for Broadchurch. I know that this is all still early in Snorri’s career, and Moderna better hold on to him before all of the majors swoop in! Meanwhile, you can hear more about this composer’s journey in this intimate video:

The EP is out tomorrow, November 19th, on all digital platforms. You can also grab a limited edition vinyl via Bandcamp which combines both EPs. I recommend you play both EPs in a row, to get a sense of the entire Landbrot.