We may already have heard the best album of 2023.
Iceland-born Bára Gísladóttir is a composer and double bassist who calls Copenhagen home now. She produces solo works, and collaborates with Skúli Sverrisson and the Elja Ensemble. Gísladóttir also performs with the Copenhagen Philharmonic and other orchestras.
SILVA is a 57-plus-minute force of nature. A “work for processed double bass,” she says in the album’s notes, “built on the idea of a downward growing forest, living its own secret life of underground raves and meditative cohesiveness.”
Gísladóttir drills further down with each thrust of her capable baton. The piece feels simultaneously enormous and claustrophobic.
“I like to think of different movement and direction in the musical form and was intrigued by the thought of something that would otherwise naturally grow upwards, in reach for light and surrounded by air, rather being drawn in the opposite direction where darkness and solid form serve as the source of gleaming luminosity and breezy surroundings,” she says. “Both in my compositional and instrumentalist work, in every nook and cranny I’ve been driven to dig as deep as I’ve been able, with SILVA perhaps quite literally so.”
Imagery aside, SILVA is a dramatic, but very listenable piece. In less capable hands, this could be overwhelming and oppressive. It isn’t that at all.
“Although growing up in classical music and predominantly working and living in an environment of classical contemporary/avant-garde music, I’ve been very much into other genres as well: alternative, experimental, heavy metal, noise, drone, techno and electronica,” says Gísladóttir. “I believe SILVA is the byproduct of all of that.”