Best Albums of 2017
selected by John Rogers

Volruptus <BR> “Hessdalen/Homeblast” EPs

“Hessdalen/Homeblast” EPs

After Bjarki blazed a trail for Icelandic electronic musicians, many promising artists have emerged from his slipstream.

One is Berlin-based Volruptus, who makes minimal, bassy IDM with a sense of relative reserve: his compositions are uptempo but usually have just two or three warped elements in the composition.

He’s signed to Nina Kraviz’s Trip label, so all the signs are good. It’ll be interesting to see where he takes his sound next.

♪♫ Listen: “Alien Transmission” + album stream

Volruptus on Soundcloud, Facebook.

Bára Gísladóttir <BR> “Mass For Some”

Bára Gísladóttir
“Mass For Some”

Contrabass player and experimental composer Bára Gísladóttir returned in 2017 with her second album, “Mass For Some.”

It’s challenging, mesmerising stuff: her chosen instrument sounds like it’s being thoroughly mistreated, with violently snapped strings and aggressive bowing that groans like twisting metal—it sounds, at times, like a ship slipping down beneath the waves.

Mass, indeed.

♪♫ Listen: “Material Mass” + album stream

Gangly on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Gangly <BR> “EP”


After drip-feeding the internet for a couple of years with highly polished singles that feel like precious artefacts, Gangly collected their work to date on an engaging self-titled EP.

A trio comprising Sin Fang, Jófríður Ákadóttir and Úlfur Alexander Einarsson of Oyama, Gangly’s downtempo alt-pop is introspective, catchy and simmering.

Rumour has it, their next material will move in mood, look, and sound: keep an eye on Gangly.

♪♫ Listen: “Holy Grounds” + album stream

Gangly on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Björk <BR> “Utopia”


Iceland’s best-known musician dropped a new LP this year, and it’s quite a journey, clocking in at over 71 minutes.

After an effervescent, dizzily romantic opening, the middle section retreads the territory mapped out on the gruelling “Vulnicura,” before a forward-thinking finale that examines selfhood and progress.

This tangled narrative exists in a lush sonic world of flutes, beats and birdsong; those willing to invest the time will find ‘Utopia’ an interesting island to explore.

♪♫ Listen: “Blissing Me” + album stream

Björk on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Högni <BR> “Two Trains”

“Two Trains”

Högni Egilsson is best known for his work as frontman of Hjaltalín, and a singer in GusGus.

His first solo album puts forward a bold vision, meshing together choral compositions, experimental songwriting and bouts of glossy pop, topped with Högni’s deep and arresting singing voice.

Whether it’s entirely successful will become clearer with repeat listens, but “Two Trains” is an inarguably ambitious release that stands out from the pack.

♪♫ Listen: “Komdu með” + album stream

Högni on Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram.

Páll Ivan Frá Eiðum <BR> “This Is My Shit”

Páll Ivan Frá Eiðum
“This Is My Shit”

Primarily a composer, Páll Ivan’s lo-fi pop output is something of an accident. After suffering a mental breakdown, Páll started creating music in his studio as a therapeutic exercise—“like colouring in.” To his surprise, people were transfixed by the outcome.

It’s incredibly eccentric music that flips between genres from song to song, from bassy trap to psych-pop to what sounds like medieval court music played on keyboard presets. Irreverent, surreal and bizarre, it makes Ariel Pink seem conservative—there’s nothing quite like this.

♪♫ Listen: “Expanding” + album stream

Páll Ivan Frá Eiðum on Bandcamp, Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, Instagram.

JFDR <BR> “Brazil”


Jófríður Ákadóttir has grown from her beginnings as one half of folk-pop duo Pascal Pinon to one of the best-known faces of Icelandic music.

Also part of GANGLY and Samaris, her solo project JFDR sees her finding a sound and a voice that’s all her own: poetic, melodic, whispery and world-wise.

“Brazil” is a lyrical journey that ruminates on cycles, whether those of relationships, life experiences or the ever-changing seasons.

♪♫ Listen: “White Sun” + album stream

JFDR on Bandcamp, Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, Instagram.

Hatari <BR> “Neysluvara” EP

“Neysluvara” EP

Hatari are a conceptual art-pop trio whose music incorporates elements of techno, industrial and synth pop in a quite dizzying presentation.

Onstage, they’re hypnotic: their drummer stands static and topless in a spiked leather mask, pounding relentlessly at his electronic drums; the two vocalists have contrasting styles, one ranting in a grating, distorted, authoritarian voice, while the other sings in a beautiful falsetto and writhes across the stage.

Their debut EP proves their tunes can stand up without the stage theatrics.

♪♫ Listen: “X” + album stream

Hatari on Facebook, Youtube, www.

Sóley <BR> “Endless Summer”

“Endless Summer”

Sóley spread her wings in 2017 with her best album to date, “Endless Summer”.

Whilst it’s still fragile, subtle and delicate, “Endless Summer” had a new sense of boldness in the songwriting, eschewing Sóley’s usual creepy fairytale storytelling style for something more autobiographical and emotionally engaged.

The subject matter rings true, and so do the tunes: this is the most accomplished album she has recorded yet.

♪♫ Listen: “Grow” + album stream

Sóley on BandcampFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Sólveig Matthildur <BR> “Unexplained Miseries and the Acceptance Of Sorrow”

Sólveig Matthildur
“Unexplained Miseries and the Acceptance Of Sorrow”

Sólveig Matthildur rose to prominence as a member of DIY goth-wave trio Kælan Mikla, but her self-released debut solo album is a revelation.

Her sound world is one of deep reverb, distant beats and synths that merge into a warm fog of sound, with Sólveig’s huge singing voice floating somewhere inside.

Reminiscent of cult art-pop artists like Tamaryn and Zola Jesus, Sólveig’s work radiates a raw and direct emotional intensity, and she has a knack for seamless song arrangements. This is a debut to remember.

♪♫ Listen: “Unexplained Miseries… I” + album stream

Sólveig Matthildur on: Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram.