9. Francis and the Lights – Friends feat. Bon Iver and Kanye Weste
The ultimate synth pad. Great hook.
10. Darude – Sandstorme
Hugar ‘The Vasulka Effect: Music For The Motion Picture’ (Sony Music Masterworks)
When Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson self-released their eponymous debut album in 2014, they were a pair of talented local musicians from Seltjarnarnes, the smallest township in Iceland, just outside of Reykjavík. Six years later, on the strength of that one free download, they have collaborated with their country’s leading artists Björk, Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds and Jóhann Jóhannson. International praise followed from The Independent, Rolling Stone, Clash, KEXP and The Line of Best Fit, they racked up 52 million streams and counting, and released their fully formed major-label debut, ‘Varða’, on Sony Music Masterworks.
Now, Hugar’s flourishing continues on ‘The Vasulka Effect: Music for the Motion Picture’, which originated as a score that Þórisson and Jónsson created for the docu-film about video-art pioneers Vasulka, but grew into something more; this 20-song album. The duo explain, “after doing the score for the film about Vasulka, we continued to be inspired by their story, warmth, art and groundbreaking technology, so we kept working on the music.”
‘The Vasulka Effect’ charts the lives and work of Steina Vasulka, a classical violinist from Iceland, and Czech filmmaker Woody Vasulka who married and moved to New York in the ferment of its 1960s art scene. Theirs were among the first and most lasting forays into the possibilities of electronic image generation and live-video processing. Their influence in art is far-reaching and profound.
Vasulka have exhibited at Tate Modern, MOMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art. According to The Guggenheim (where Vasulka are Fellows), the duo were “crucial to the development of the city’s media art scene – not only through their own work, but through their founding of experimental venue The Kitchen, which is basically where the non-CBGBs part of the ‘70s happened.”
‘The Vasulka Effect’ is a story made of equal parts technological adventure and human warmth, full of life’s richness and loss. In their score Hugar captured the entire spectrum of the film’s concept and feeling, and also revealed an aspect of their music that was always hidden in plain sight: In contrast to the post-rock peaks of their previous, more maximal album ‘Varða’, here Hugar purvey dreamlike ambience and subtle, but vivid compositions. The multi instrumentalists retain their signature modern-orchestral palette – majestic landscapes of piano, brass, and strings, rimed with guitars and electronics – but pare away all excess, until only the most elemental gestures and deep-breathed rhythms remain.