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Icelandic folk songs get a modern classical facelift from Hugar

Hugar, the recording name of Icelandic musicians Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson, prepare to release ‘Þjóðlög‘, translating to ‘Folk Songs‘ in English, via XXIM Records.

The EP, which consists of just five short songs, delves into historical Icelandic oral folk culture, reimagining melodies from the 18th and 19th centuries into modern classical and ambient masterworks. Far more than an EP of renditions, the project preserves and entrenches Icelandic folk history into the modern age in a relevant and heartfelt fashion.

All the pieces on ‘Þjóðlög’ were taken from a book of the same name published at the turn of the 20th century, which transcribed the melodies of numerous Icelandic folk songs which carry the essence of life on the lonely island in the northern seas, describing the bleak environment and the trials of love and death. The book narrowly dodged the void, due to a lack of interest at the time in the notations within, and so Hugar’s modernisation comes as a celebration and a rejuvenation of Icelandic culture.

Reminiscent of some of Posh Isolation’s recent forays into swelling strings and electronic ambience, Hugar’s renditions stand with one foot in the present and another in their cultural past. In their own words: “We feel that it is very important to keep these songs alive. They reflect our long, dark, raw winters with their themes of loss, grief and darkness.”

Hugar have collaborated with the likes of Icelandic legends Björk, Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds and Johann Johannson, and composed a commended score for the critically acclaimed film ‘The Vasulka Effect‘. The first single, ‘Vísur Vatnsenda-Rósu‘, is out now.

Þjóðlög’ is scheduled for release 28 May via XXIM Records. Order a copy


1. Fagurt er í fjörðum
2. Blástjarnan þótt skarti skær
3. Nú vil énn í nafni þínu
4. Vísur Vatnsenda-Rósu
5. Grafskrift