When you hear the first sad, tender notes on the piano at the beginning of his new album you might be forgiven for not realizing that Snorri Hallgrímsson was thinking of his happy place. Landbrot is a beautiful new suite of music that takes its name from the location of his family cabin in rural Iceland. The word translates to ‘land fractures’, suggesting the concept of erosion and framing the album as a “search for inner calm & acceptance amongst the many obstacles of daily life”. But the word has yet another meaning which holds the key to unlocking the ultimately uplifting message he hopes the album will convey.
“Landbrot is my true happy place. I recently discovered that one meaning for landbrot is ‘oasis’ – as it’s located between two big sandy plains in the southeast of Iceland. When I wrote this piece, my mind was kind of stuck in a sandy desert, and creating simple melodies on my home piano was my way of getting closer to that oasis. I hope it can take you to wherever your own oasis is…“Snorri Hallgrímsson
The simple melodies he refers to are sweet ones indeed and through them the affection for the memories he holds comes through. Adding to the captivating charm are the exquisite contributions made by a trio of collaborators in the form of Björk Óskarsdóttir (violin), Karl James Pestka (viola), and Unnur Jónsdóttir (cello).
As you listen, if you think you hear a kinship with the music of fellow Icelander Ólafur Arnalds, you’re ears do not deceive you. Snorri worked alongside Arnalds on several of his high-profile projects including Island Songs, The Chopin Project (with Alice Sara Ott), and the BAFTA-award winning score for ‘Broadchurch’. It is a heartfelt, lyrical, and naturally atmospheric style that reflects the musical path he has taken from the Icelandic choral tradition of his youth to developing a love of film music in his teens before going on to study composition at both the Iceland Academy of the Arts and Berklee College of Music. Hallgrímsson certainly has a gift for musical expression and with this effort, you may find that gift helps you find a happy place of your own for at least a short time.
Landbrot is available now as a digital release via Moderna Records. The album was mastered by Martyn Heyne at his Lichte Studio in Berlin and features artwork by abstract artist Leigh Wells.