Most music lovers first heard of Amiina due to their association with another Icelandic band called Sigur Ros. The girls started working with Sigur Ros in the mid 90's, resulting in their first shows with the band in 1999. The rest, of course, is history, as Amiina became the string players for all of Sigur Ros' subsequent tours and records.
Like the sound of cooing, aspects of Amiina's music flicker quietly and float softly, content and beautiful. Kurr is full of dazzling moments of that caliber, a wholly original work that is delicate, intricate and dream-like. Their music is genuinely so special, ineffably charming and infused with a sense of cosmic magic. It's certainly wielded that power on us.
Amiina not only sound
like Arvo Pärt in a music box, they actually play
a music box. It's among the thrift-store instruments the Icelandic quartet employs, which include wine glasses, bowed saws, antique synthesizers, and--yes, even the violins, viola, and cello that they originally started with. We've been hearing Amiina for a few years now, adding strings and additional quirkiness to the last few albums by fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós. While Sigur Rós work in epic electric dimensions, Amiina work in the delicate spaces of fragile sounds and folk refrains. On Kurr
, their first full-length album, they manage to be quaint and exotic, like a modern vision set in a dusty portrait from the past. Amiina's mixture of classicism and humor owes a debt to the Penguin Café Orchestra. But while the late Simon Jeffe's outfit had the air of erudite wit and debonair grace, Amiina are cuter, musically and visually. Like kids in the attic, they exude a more innocent, yet exploratory charm. Whether plucking pastoral electric guitar lines and singing a schoolyard chant on "Rugla," bowing saws and tapping glockenspiels on "Seoul," or actually playing their classical strings, Amiina enchant like a peek inside an elven gathering under the roots of Yggdrasil. --John Diliberto