Icelandic duo Pascal Pinon’s third full-length, might be their most diverse musical statement within the frame of their Folk-influenced, minimalistic sound. Produced only by the duo, Sundur is made up of songs, written over the past eighteen months. While most parts of the album are sparsely orchestrated and follow the experimental lo-fi-leaning aesthetics of the duo’s previous two records, the overall tone has become rawer with its metronome-like rhythms, occasional synth lines and driving piano melodies.
Sundur lends its title from the Icelandic proverb “sundur og saman” (meaning “apart and together”) and could be considered the companion of 2013’s “Twosomeness”. Thematically, it reflects upon the voluntary separation of the two sisters. “We had never been apart our entire lives until we finished touring with our last album”, remembers Jófríður Ákadóttir. While Ásthildur went to Amsterdam to study classical piano and composition and back to Iceland, her sister Jófríður went to tour the world with her other band, Samaris, and still leads a nomadic lifestyle.
Being apart is not only the main thematic thread running through Sundur, it also turned Pascal Pinon’s writing process upside down. Although Ásthildur and Jófríður frequently visited each other in the Netherlands and respectively Iceland from early 2014 until late 2015 to finish the writing process, the geographical separation also influenced their compositions and thus the album as a whole. “The fact that we spent so much time apart creates completely different connections between the songs than on ‘Twosomeness’, which for me makes it more diverse in the best way possible”, says Ásthildur in regards to the LP’s predecessor. Indeed Sundur sees two different people arriving at their shared creative goal.
Due to a conflict of schedules, Ásthildur and Jófríður ended up recording the bulk of “Sundur” in only two days. Their father, composer Áki Ásgeirsson, helped out with the engineering and contributed percussions played with scrap metal he brought with him, including discarded parts of airplanes. While few of those details will be audible on the surface, the unpolished sound design and added bits are crucial to “Sundur”, the result of an intense musical collaboration between the three family members. “It makes the album feel more real and raw which is what it essentially is all about,” explains Jófríður. “It’s very sparse and a lot closer in the approach and in regards to the sound of our very first album. It’s kind of funny that seven years later, we would go back to the same place where we were at age 14!”
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