Riding on My Bicycle

Riding on My Bicycle

(Icelandic Alternative Rock Music)

Perhaps a privilege enjoyed by a passionate music enthusiast like me is having a diverse selection of music that I can listen to. I don’t rely on what commercial radio and media offer to music listeners, because I know well that they are very limited. They don’t cover even ten percent of the entire music in the world. I am a proactive music listener, exploring music and genres and discovering and rediscovering old and new artists. And through this musical adventure that I got acquainted with bands from countries other than the U.S., U.K., and the Philippines. For instance, because of researching, I discovered a number of interesting Alternative Rock bands originating from Iceland, such as the following.

Sigur Rós (Icelandic for Victory Rose) was formed in 1994 in Reykjavík. The band has released 5 studio albums: Von (1997), Ágætis byrjun (1999), ( ) (2002), Takk… (2005), and Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (2008). My recommended songs are “Leit af lífi” and “Streamside.” Members of the band are Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson (lead vocals, guitars, bowed guitar, keyboards, harmonica, banjo), Georg “Goggi” Hólm (bass, glockenspiel), Kjartan “Kjarri” Sveinsson (synthesizers, keyboards, piano, organs, programming, guitars, flute, tin whistle, oboe, banjo, backing vocals), and Orri Páll Dýrason (drums, keyboards).

The Elgar Sisters (1984–1986) was a group formed by Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson and Björk Guðmundsdóttir (Yes, the popular solo artist Björk). The duo composed and recorded several songs but, unfortunately, never released an album. Three of such songs (“Glóra,” “Síðasta Ég,” and “Stígðu Mig”), as well as a number of previously unreleased tracks from Björk’s other early bands (including Tappi Tíkarass and KUKL), luckily, were released by Björk as part of her CD box set entitled Family Tree (2003). My recommended song by The Elgar Sisters is “Masse Critique.”

Kukl was another Icelandic group of which Björk was a member Its style leaned more towards the Gothic subgenre of Alternative Rock music. Echoes of Bauhaus, The Cure, Killing Joke, and Siouxsie & the Banshees resonate especially from their debut album, The Eye (1984). Recently, Kukl’s music became commercially accessible when Björk included a number of Kukl’s tracks in her 2003-released CD box setFamily Tree. My recommended songs are “Assassin,” “Dismembered,” “Gibraltar,” and “Open the Window and Let the Spirit Fly Free.” Kukl was Björk Guðmundsdóttir (vocals), Sigtryggur Baldursson (drums), Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson (guitars), Birgir Mogensen (bass), Einar Benediktsson Örn (trumpet/vocals), and Einar Arnaldur Melax (keyboards).

The Sugarcubes (1986–1992) – I’ve known this band in the late ‘80s, way before its vocalist Björk launched a solo career. I first heard their single “Motorcrash” on DWNU 107.5, a Rock-format FM radio station based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Learning that the band was Icelandic hyped my interest in them. Other Sugarcubes songs that I like include “Birthday,” “Hit,” “Regina,” and “Chihuahua.”

The Sugarcubes were Björk Guðmundsdóttir (vocals), Einar Örn Benediktsson (vocals, trumpet), Þór Eldon (guitar), Bragi Ólafsson (bass), Einar Melax (keyboards), Margrét Örnólfsdóttir (keyboards), and Sigtryggur Baldursson (drums).

Final Note
Ordinary and casual music listeners most often cast their spotlight only on the North American and the British music scenes; in doing so, they fail to realize that they are missing a lot of music found elsewhere.