Formed in 2011 in Reykjavik, Samaris is an electronic music trio of young musicians still in their early twenties blending haunting vocals (Jófríður Ákadóttir) with electronics (Þórður Kári Steinþórsson) and acoustic clarinet (Áslaug Brún Magnúsdóttir). After two self-released EPs in 2011 and 2012 later compiled into a first self-titled album in 2013, the Silkidrangar LP was released in May 2014 last on One Little Indian records.
Mixing ambient electronic layers with the trip-hop, classical, pop or folk idioms while creating plenty of space for vocal and clarinet improvisation, Samaris’ experimental fusion of the old with the new carves a cohesive, timeless and ethereal soundscape.
Also a member of folk duo Pascal Pinon with her twin sister where she sings in English and Icelandic, vocalist Jófríður Ákadóttir only sings in Icelandic with Samaris. From the outset, the trio decided to focus on the natural inflections of their native language by only using verses from collections of 19th century Icelandic poetry instead of composing their own lyrics:
We have a very strong heritage of poetry and literature. We have a very old language. It’s one of the oldest languages in the world – it hasn’t changed very much over a thousand years. We can still read these books that were written in our founding language. We pride ourselves on our poetry. We learn about this in school, and we are taught poems, we memorise them, we analyse them, and I think people are interested in this. The language hasn’t changed so much that they can’t still relate to them and understand them, find their own meaning in them. Samaris interview
Interweaving entirely new melodies with contemporary downtempo beats and harmonies on the clarinet, Samaris shed an entirely new light on old Icelandic rhymes from the Romantic era dealing with nature and the elements. And the sheer musicality of the trio entirely bypasses the language barrier to create a glorious sound.