So, this is a day late, but to make up for that, I’ve decided to share the music of Hymnalaya: my favorite Icelandic band, no contest. Hymnalaya is like Iceland: beautiful in their paradoxes. They have a huge band with big instruments, but make a intensely quiet sound. As their songs crescendo, the volume seems to get wider instead of higher, to swell without getting any louder. They make a masterful use of the empty spaces in songs, filling them with soft percussion that adds a calming effect, like the peace that comes from the background sound of waves rolling in and out on a cold beach.
Their lyrics are simply constructed and easily understood but are also laden with a second level of meaning that seems to grow every time I listen to their album. There is a depth and perhaps even a sadness to their songs, but still the music leaves you feeling hopeful, smiling, and musing on beautiful things. In short, this seems be a group whose talents lie not in just technical execution, but in a true understanding of truth, beauty, and hope.
And they hold a special place in my Iceland experience. During my first week in Reykjavik, a few friends insisted that I come along to Cafe Rosenberg to see this great band they had discovered on Culture Night a few days earlier. As it happened, the whole band (a dozen + talented musicians) couldn’t make the show, so Einar and Þórdís played a few songs from their side project, Luckyhymnist. I was mesmerized by their sweet vocals and quiet but joyful sound.
While enjoying their songs, I realized by the lyrics that they were Christians, so afterwards I asked them where they attended church in the area. That’s how I started going to the International Service at Fíladelfía, which has been one of the biggest blessings of my time here so far. Of course, since then, I’ve seen Hymnalaya play every chance I get, and each time I find my “Mind Blown” by the unique beauty of their music.
These photos are 35mm film shots I took at their recent show at Cafe Rosenberg (a great music venue for those of you visiting town).