Icelandic composer Eydís Evensen’s debut LP, Bylur, releases on XXIM Records – Sony’s new imprint for post-classical and post-genre music – on April 23. She comes from the remote Icelandic town of Blönduós, and Iceland has left its imprint on her sound. Evensen grew up listening to a diverse selection of music, ranging from Tchaikovsky to Led Zeppelin. While storms raged outside, she found peace and connection through music. Classically trained, her plans to become a professional pianist were put on hold as she moved to New York to pursue a modelling career. But despite this, the piano remained the love of her life, and a piano was never far from her side. Bylur was largely written during this period in her life.
Bylur is Icelandic for ‘snowstorm’, and the piano’s notes resemble a flurry of snowfall. Each note hangs suspended in the white-drawn air, seconds before they touch the ground. Composed of thirteen pieces, and containing additional strings, brass, and electronics, Bylur is evocative of Evensen’s Icelandic home. Despite New York being thousands of miles away, the piano drew her back once again, and her gentle, stirring music places home at the centre of its heart. This is also due to the record being recorded and produced at Reykjavik’s Greenhouse Studios, further imbuing the music with the gravity of the nation and its essence.
Snowstorms can be a beautiful, quiet sanctuary, but they can also promise swirling blizzards, and those can leave surroundings blind, keeping the rest of the world out of sight. Bylur’s music is largely peaceful and serene, tucked snugly indoors, its world in a state of near-silence as the snow continues to fall. The piano is able to remain light and agile, even among the presence of strings, which, instead of weighing down on the piano and adding a heavier atmosphere to the music, actually help to lift the piano higher, almost reversing the fall of its notes, as if caught in a sudden gust, sweeping its snowflakes upwards and taking them to another, unexpected place. Her music is played with love and care, and this is especially evident when vocals emerge on ‘Midnight Moon’. Sung in English but still containing the depths of an Icelandic snowstorm, the vocals fit in perfectly beside its balletic notes. Although the music is as cold as January, the light notes are able to offer glints of a warmer sun.