Referring to the geometric model of the solar system by the ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer Ptolemy, in which a smaller circle travels around the circumference of a larger circle, cellist Gyda Valtysdottir releases a sequel to her highly acclaimed first solo album from 2017,.
Haunting, melodic and yet dissonant at the same time, the album features eight of Valtysdottir’s closest co-conspirators and inspirers from her life; “This group of people is really a musical galaxy, where the connections are endless…”
Orbiting themes of Water, Air (breath) and Love, harmonies are often thick, layered and textured rather than melodic, a trademark of Icelandic composers, and offer travel without destinations, as in the gorgeously heavy Unfold. Each track takes the listener on what feels like motion through stopped time; moving, yet not moving; micro-journeys to sea, to the sky, love and to outer space. I was delighted to find Anna Thorvaldsdóttir’s Mikros on the journey, having had the fortune to attend her composition lecture last December at Banff. Equally enjoyable is the super dark and cool mix of voices and electronics on Evol Lamina, closing our orbital loop and returning our feet back to the dirt by the final, perhaps prophetically unsettling track, Octo.
A deeply cinematic score at times, this album is often transporting with great lift, giving the listener long opportunities to soar, bird-like, over the Icelandic landscape and beyond, for the most part leaving us safely and gently deposited on the earthly shore.