Since 2006, producer Valgeir Sigurđsson’s Bedroom Community stable has developed a distinct pastiche from the international collaborations of its membership. Split between Reykjavík and New York City, the label continues to forge relationships between classical composition and electronics that push its sound in different directions, while still coalescing into an eerie, oblique whole. From Nico Muhly’s orchestral explorations, to Sam Amidon’s folk balladry, to Sigurđsson’s own pristine arrangements, each artist’s vision is distinguishable, but the way they interact and integrate produces compelling results.
Sigurđsson’s second full-length is a case in point. A soundtrack to Icelandic filmmakers Ţorfinnur Guđnason and Andri Snćr Magnason’s documentary, Draumalandiđ — Dreamland in English — the record features all of Bedroom Community’s disparate, but complementary, talents. What’s most impressive is that while the album was composed specifically for the film, it still fits well within Sigurđsson’s larger canon. It may be a departure from the processed symphonic pop of Sigurđsson’s debut full-length, Ekvílibríum, but Draumalandiđ still possesses the same dark, airy splendor that marks most Bedroom Community releases.
Set in Sigurđsson’s native Iceland, the film Draumalandiđ attempts to highlight the negative economic and environmental impacts that have resulted from the country’s effort to build Europe’s largest dam — a source of cheap, “green” energy — for an aluminum smelter in Iceland’s eastern fjords. The opening track, “Grýlukvćđi,” aptly foreshadows both the record and documentary: Amidon’s rendering of an old Icelandic folk tale about a “greedy hag” that comes to feast on misbehaving children provides a somber analogy to the global political pressures that largely spurred the energy project.
With the help of a small enlisted orchestra (arranged and conducted by Muhly), Sigurđsson provides a soundtrack to images of Iceland’s breathtaking landscape, underscored by a sense of unease — a subtle urgency that builds from tension and grandeur. Fellow Bedroom Community artist Ben Frost’s crackling textures on tracks like “Nowhere Land” and “Helter Smelter” add to the sinister motif at work in Draumalandiđ. And the groaning string arrangements accentuate the sense of loss that the film captures in the exploitation of Iceland’s natural resources.
Best known for his masterful production work for the likes of Björk and Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Sigurđsson’s touch is at its most precise here, crafting an emotional weight that is moving, but not overstated. With such a keen ear for composition and flow, Sigurđsson has created a score that sounds remarkably evocative of the film’s main themes, while still able to stand alone as an album. At the very least, Draumalandiđ is another brilliant showcase of Bedroom Community’s burgeoning potential.