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Olvis Bravado Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Orlygur Thor Orlygsson, has precious little to do with his hip-swivelling...

Louis Pattison 2007

If, by any slim chance, you’re familiar with the accentuation of Icelandic, you’ll know that Olvis is actually pronounced “Elvis”. But the man who bears that name, Orlygur Thor Orlygsson, has precious little to do with his hip-swivelling rock’n’roll namesake.

On Bravado, his third full-length release on the Resonant label, Orlygsson continues to walk the line between shimmering vintage electronica and organic post-rock, crafting foreboding soundscapes atop which he sings in a commanding Icelandic baritone. At more accessible moments, as on ‘'Song For Love'’, it sounds a little like Super Furry Animals at their most mournful and experimental. Other times, as on ‘'War Chant'’, however, it’s distant and chilly in the extreme, minimal synthesiser washes that recall classic mid-‘70s Tangerine Dream.

Perhaps it’s a matter of small population and close geography, but Icelandic bands are well known for their spirit of collaboration in the name of experimentation, and Bravado is no exception. Orri Dyrason and George Holm of Sigur Ros show up to play drums and bass guitar on a handful of tracks - notably the elegant ‘'Wake Up Now'’, which also features keening violin from Maria Huld Markan Sigfusdottir. And Arnar Geir Ómarsson, of the criminally obscure Reykjavik symphonic quartet Apparat Organ Quartet, takes up the drumsticks on a few tracks. The stand-out of these is the sombre ‘'Fight The Power'’, and while it isn’t, disappointingly, a cover of Public Enemy, it does give us English speakers a clue to Olvis’ lyrical preoccupations. According to his record label, Resonant, Bravado is about 'disillusionment with global capitalism and US hegemony'.

If you don’t speak Icelandic, you won’t glean any overtly political spirit, but the knowledge there's political belief burning within these songs offers a fascinating counterpoint to their cool, desolate exteriors.

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