Ásgeir: Bury the Moon / Sátt

Hidden Figures

Listening Post 282. There’s a lot in play on Ásgeir’s third album and at any moment some features are prominent while others are concealed. The songs are constant in tone but richly layered: Musically a mix of traditional folk and folktronica with forays into jazz and R&B (several with alternate acoustic and electronic videos), thematically they range from meditations on nostalgia and heartbreak to the power and vulnerability of nature, with Iceland’s stark and magical landscape ever present. The 11-track project can be viewed as two albums in one or one album in two: Bury the Moon, the English version and Sätt, it’s flawless reflection, in the artist’s native Icelandic. And though Iceland’s renowned elves don’t inhabit the lyrics, many of the places where songs were recorded have hidden-people associations and on some videos Einar Georg Einarsson, Ásgeir’s poet-lyricist father, recites introductory verses about the unseen denizens. The album does have a haunted dimension but it has less to do with folklore than with the Ásgeir’s gentle, enigmatic voice and persona. The production began with escape: Emerging from a long-deteriorating relationship, he retreated from the bustle of Reykyavik to peaceful isolation at a friend’s summerhouse during winter, taking only guitar and keyboard, to reflect and compose. The songs are touching and introspective: A cursed ending is leavened with blessed memories in Eventide/Minning (video 1); melancholy resolves into cautious optimism in the shadow-and-light poetry of Pictures/Myndir (video 2); and Youth/Bernskan is a Proustian reverie with echoes of childhood summer games (video 3). In Rattled Snow/Glæður, winter patience becomes a symbol of spiritual endurance (video 4), while in Bury the Moon/Vaðandi þurrt great feats—moving oceans, tossing mountains—aren’t enough to sustain a doomed love (video 5). Through a revolving drama of clashing emotions, of exterior and internal journeys, of clarity and uncertainty, Ásgeir keeps his protean opus in perfect balance. (One Little Independent Records)

Related post. Ásgeir: In the Silence, Listening Post 53, June 27, 2016
https://worldlisteningpost.com/2016/06/27/asgeir-in-the-silence/

 

Eventide / Minning
Lyrics: Einar Georg Einarsson/Music: Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson
Translation: John Grant, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson

Lily flower looks up into the sun/On the morning when life was taken from her
In an instant torn up by the root/Now there’s nothing save a bed of stones

Eventide and a cool, playful breeze/And in my ear a soft voice to me whispers:
“When life passes, it leaves in its wake/A tiny void, an absence, nothing more”

Always helps to find/Deep down inside your mind
A memory warm and dear/A memory warm and dear

You know sorrow has its own way/But as humans we do not want to see it
She is fickle, she’s stubborn and cold/She doesn’t give or take, she only is

Always helps to find/Deep down inside your mind
A memory warm and dear/A memory warm and dear

 

Pictures / Myndir
Lyrics: Einar Georg Einarsson/Music: Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson
Translation: John Grant, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson

A mellow dew come morning will shine/And the sun wakens the meadow
Gives us moments of delight/Makes a cruel world seem alright

A graceful day the crowds they heave and flow/You can hear the engines running
The world is changing rapidly/Into much uncertainty

When darkness falls we venture out into the night/And realize our dreams and shed our human plight
And so the night moves lightly o’er the ground/Little stars like blinking eyes look down

Are they watching over us?/Teaching us to love and trust?
When darkness falls we venture out into the night/And realize our dreams and shed our human plight

Echoes hammering constructing the conceits of men/Unfolding always growing, it will never end
You have to see the world as one connected whole/If we think separation that’s when greed takes hold

 

Youth​​ / Bernskan
Lyrics: Einar Georg Einarsson/Music: Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson
Translation: Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson

Do you recall the things that used to give us joy?
When our imagination could take us anywhere
In stormy winter weather we built a house of snow

Do you remember how everyone from town used to go out skating?
Oh, we had so much fun the lake was frozen over it looked as clear as glass

And all the quiet nights when summer had arrived and we played Annie Over
Unburdened by concern
Appearing in my mind now pictures from the past
I won’t forget the years when boundless love and joy
Lived in our young hearts and smiled inside our chests
This world that we created
I’ll never forget

Do you recall the things that used to give us joy?
When our imagination could take us anywhere
Appearing in my mind now pictures from the past

 

Rattled Snow​​ / Glæður
Lyrics: Júlíus Aðalsteinn Róbertsson/Music: Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson
Translation: John Grant,
Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson

Fire of life beloved/Flows over the mountains dim and gray
Designing cloud formations/Shrouded with desires from ancient times
In silence you wait patiently for spring/And in this calm another day comes forth

Sun beams cloak with fiery rays/The outline of the hills
Spreading over rocks and rattled snow/You walked here long ago

Don’t you know my dear friend/This world can be warm as well as cold
Tear down the walls around you/Happiness will find you once again

In silence you wait patiently for spring/And in this calm another day comes forth

Sun beams cloak with fiery rays/The outline of the hills
Spreading over rocks and rattled snow/You walked here long ago

 

Bury the Moon / Vaðandi þurrt
Lyrics: Júlíus Aðalsteinn Róbertsson/Music: Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson

I have buried the moon/Made a song for the stars
Decorated the sky/Same thing day after day
Decorated the sky/Same thing day after day

Moved the oceans around/Threw the mountains aside
Went to alien lands/Overflowing with dust
Went to alien lands/Overflowing with dust

Threw my cards on the desk/Put them into a pile
All these magical words/That have never been said
All these magical words/That have never been said

Walked on hot lava field/And the wind tempered down
Went through every ordeal/It was all done for you
Went through every ordeal/It was all done for you

Went through every ordeal/It was all done for you
Went through every ordeal/It was all done for you
Went through every ordeal/It was all done for you
Went through every ordeal/It was all done for you

I have buried the moon/Made a song for the stars
Decorated the sky/Same thing day after day
Decorated the sky/Same thing day after day

Moved the oceans around/Threw the mountains aside
Went to alien lands/Overflowing with dust
Went to alien lands/Overflowing with dust

 


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