A Sense of Place: Bylur by Eydís Evensen

Born in the remote Icelandic town of Blönduós, we are told that as a child pianist & composer Eydís Evensen would stand in the howling wind and stare out the wild Westfjords pretending to conduct the clouds. Indoors she was exposed by her parents to a breadth of music from very early on ranging from Tchaikovsky to Led Zeppelin. She reminisces that she was drawn toward the piano in her household as soon as she could stand, starting lessons at the age of six and writing her first piece of music at age 7. So it is at the age of just 27, Eydís has completed an album that already reflects a lifetime rooted in a love of music and a deep connection to the place she call home, a kind of musical diary told in sound and melody.

It was not a straightforward journey, however. As the story behind her remarkable debut goes on, there was a period where Eydís stepped off the path that was leading toward conservatory training instead choosing to travel the world and begin a modeling career. Regardless of where she traveled, the music never left her and she finally decided to drop everything and return to Reykjavik to record her compositions she’d been writing her entire life.

All of these songs are moments from my life. So many ups and downs. All of my joy, darkness, happiness, heartbreak and melancholia. Every chord change takes me back to a moment in my life: I can remember the thought and the feeling of when and why I wrote it. Shaping the sounds of this album into the truest reflection of how I was feeling has been incredibly rewarding and therapeutic.

Bylur begins with a piece Eydís wrote when she was only 12 years old (“Deep Under”) and ends with a title track which invokes the Icelandic word for snowstorm, telling a part of her story with each song. Helping her to bring these to life is a wonderful supporting cast of musicians playing roles on violin, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet, and trombone along with guest vocalist GDRN on one of the tracks (“Midnight Moon”).

It is the closing titular piece which was chosen for this stunning video directed by Einar Egils which was filmed just 17 hours after the recent volcanic eruption on the island. The breathtaking imagery becomes a dramatic backdrop for the sweeping arrangement and Eydís own introduction in the form of a short poem altogether capturing a moment that, in condensed form, manages to distill a sense of the magic and inspiration of the place where her journey began.

Directed and edited by Einar Egils

The title of the album reflects and responds to the emotional journey of what this album means to me; on the experience of being able to witness and experience such a majestic force of nature, the full spectrum of emotions. This helicopter ride was 17 hours after the volcanically active ground had begun to erupt with spewing magma and continuous earthquakes. I am still to the day speechless of having witnessed such beauty, and Einar captures this honest experience in a meaningful and emotional way.

Bylur is now available for download and streaming from XXIM Records. The album was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Links: Download/Streaming | Eydís Evensen | XXIM Records