Skip to content

Words for Tuesday

September 1, 2009

Something a bit different this week. I’m spending this fall and winter in Iceland, and to mark the commencement of that, this article is a bit of both usual Tuesday articles rolled into one.

First, in terms of the Stereo Freeze component, it might be a bit less regular for a while. It’s still scheduled the same, but it may not appear each and every time, what with my thesis now in the works. I will, however, use the column to report on what’s going on in the Reykjavík music scene. I’m unsure myself of everything that’s going on here and am looking forward to finding out, so, as often as possible, I’ll be presenting some dispatches from the ground. The Iceland Airwaves festival is coming up next month, so definitely stay tuned.

And for this week’s Over the Wall article, fitting with the theme, I’ll say a few brief words about Rokk í Reykjavík, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson’s declaratory 1982 film that presented post-punk Iceland to the world.

Comprised of various performances filmed in late ’81 and early ’82, the film featured numerous young bands who constituted a new phase of, and a new beginning for Icelandic music. It provided the first exposure Icelandic popular music had really received in an international context, as it eventually found its way around the international underground and turned curious listeners on to what was happening in Iceland.

So what was going on at the time of the film’s production? The same thing that was going on everywhere else, basically: punk revaluation and musical awakening. The thing about Iceland’s punk experience is that both the American and European expressions of it had already occurred and developed into other things, so there was no one way to go about it. That freedom is what largely characterises Rokk í Reykjavík. There’s a bit of everything going on, with some straight up punk and hardcore, some more experimental stuff, some rock and new wave-y stuff, and some plain weirdness as well. The whole thing is boldly opened by the then-leader of the Norse Pagan religion, performing some traditional Icelandic poetry. This is what the punk happening looked and sounded like at the edge of civilisation, and as a document thereof, this film is a pretty fascinating artifact.

Very few of the groups featured in the film received any recognition outside of Iceland, and many of them weren’t together all that long, but a number of very important figures in Icelandic pop are present. That’s another really interesting thing about this documentary, as so much of what’s gone on in contemporary Icelandic pop has its roots in that time, and one can see in the film the first efforts of artists who have gone on to shape Iceland’s musical climate over the nearly thirty years since.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: