So as you've no doubt noticed by the plethora of Icelandic content, it is the week of Iceland Airwaves festival. The annual event held in venues across Reykjavík has become a prominent fixture in the festival calendar since it's inception in 1999 in an airplane hanger and has continued to grow year on year.

We're sending three chaps to the scenic, metaphor-inducing island to provide coverage for your good selves, and in this article are just a few personal picks of what you should be checking out. It goes without saying that of course Björk will be a highlight what with the launch of her Biophilia multimedia project at the festival, alongside an outrageously long list of acts. Therefore with the obligatory outrageously large amount of clashes - this handy clash finder is going to be studied time and time again.

Keyboard shortcut for hyphens and umlauts: Googled. Glacial references: Banned. Here we go.

Nick Miners


Many Icelandic bands are more like collectives, and Útidúr are no exception, made up of no fewer than 12 members. Their instruments consist of, among others, guitars, double bass, accordion and trombone, and they all sing at various point throughout their repertoire. Yet they manage to avoid a feeling of excess, keeping the music simple and uncluttered, and the result is an irresistible combination that would put a smile on the most cynical listener's face.

Iðnó (Bedroom Community) - Friday 01:20

Útidúr (from Iceland) plays "The Glow / Retreat": an exclusive binaural set from


Not quite as numerous as Útidúr, Hjaltalín still consist of seven permanent members, and include a violinist and a bassonist among their number. Lead singer Högni Egilsson does nothing to dispel the rumours that Icelanders are basically all Vikings, with his long blonde hair and beardæ and his gravelly voice, whilst not technically perfect, is highly distinctive. Their debut album, Sleepdrunk Seasons, consisted of whimsical, folkish music that was described by the Guardian as 'like an endless summer night among friends', whilst their follow-up, Terminal, which was eagerly anticipated in their home country, is in parts a much moodier affair, with sinister orchestration and much darker themes, such as a photographer who steals people's faces.

They are, quite rightly, huge in Iceland.

Nasa - Sunday 23:00
Reykjavík Art Museum (Bella Union / Stereogum) - Thursday 21:00


One of the smaller Icelandic outfits, Sykur (Icelandic for 'sugar') are three teenagers and an assortment of electronic noise-making machines. Their debut album, Frábært eða Frábært was released last year and was the top-selling released on Gogoyoko for weeks. It combines up tempo dance tunes with various guest vocalists (including Icelandic rapper Blaz Roca) and leaves you wanting to dance round the streets of Reykjavík all night. Their next album is released on 19th October, and the first single from it, 'Shed Those Tears', features FM Belfast's Árni and some very nostalgic 1980s beats.

Nasa (Clash Magazine) - Saturday 02:30
Nasa (Records Records) - Wednesday 22:30

James Canham

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band

Yoko Ono really doesn't need any introduction, but maybe her music does. Living her life as someone whose reputation has always preceded her has perhaps given rise to the fact that not many people have actually listened to much more than Double Fantasy (and those who have are those irritating friends who talk too much about fashion) which is a terrible shame because she really is worth the attention. The show promises to be something special and possibly with a few pretty cool guests, and even if you hate it you’ll know her to be more than just “the one Mark shoulda aimed for”.

Harpa Norðurljós - Thursday 23:40


Forget everything that your “cool” music teacher that once met Thin Lizzie and plays AC/DC every time you walked into the room said, bass, drums and guitar are no longer the holy trinity. That plank of strings that offensively plays Muse and that one by Led Zep that looks hard has been replaced with the noble synth, the king is dead long live the king. K-X-P themselves use this trinity to powerful effect to make something that could have quite easily been on Brain 30 years ago – an exciting blend of leftfield jazz (Wolfgang Dauner Group comes to mind) with a bit more of a heavy beat, like the foundations of krautrock - I didn’t want to say they use a Motorik beat because it seems a copout, but goddamn it, it’s there and it’s amazing. And they’re on at 01:20am which is going to be incredible.

Gaukur Á Stöng (Filter Magazine) - Saturday 01:20

Dustin O'Halloran

Neoclassical, soundtrack, “that guy who plays the piano” are all terms that I’ve heard to describe O’Halloran, but none of them are actually the entire truth. He does so much more than just the minimalistic arrangements that most of his contemporaries do. He does the minimalistic arrangements, which are amazing, but some of his more impressive work is with Hauschka, Johann Johannsson and Kira Kira, which is who he’s going to be playing with on the Thursday. This is definitely not one to miss.

Fríkirkjan (Fat Cat) - Thursday 19:50

Tim Boddy


The now somewhat infamous enfant terrible's from Copenhagen have provided that machine of hype much material, nearing on Odd Future levels this year; the US tour in particular whipping the media into their usual childish frenzy. From very thin-on-the-ground in factual terms fascism allegations, which has stemmed from some arguably feticized imagery - in conjunction with a hugely coy nature on the explanation of their politics in (awkward) interviews, the Danish post-punk hardcore foursome have seemingly been successful in trolling the world somewhat. This is how much they don't give a shit; they don't even have any capitals in their name, jeez.

Oh and the music. Debut album New Brigade is a brilliantly bratty barrage of noise with largely indistinguishable lyrics, and this in combination with possesing a reputation for chaotic semi-nihilistic live shows leads us something that we're itching to see. See their blog for evidence of bloodied fans. Downside; a particularly nasty clash with SBTRKT (ouch) and Mazes (ooommmffff).

Gaukur Á Stöng (Filter Magazine) - Saturday 00:20

Einar Stray

The young Norwegian has long been a darling of The 405 from when we first heard his stunning, brooding sound in early 2010 (somewhat facetiously describing it as "dancing with Sigur Ros whilst shaking hands with Sufjan Stevens"). It's difficult to articulate in words without ending up in The Stool Pigeon "achingly beautiful" column. Since then a 9/10 debut album by the name of Chiaroscuro has been released containing his influences of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and other ethereal delights. On early on the Friday so no excuses for missing out.

Harpa Kaldalón - Friday 20:00


Samaris formed in early 2010 by by Jófríður Ákadóttir, Þórður Steinþórsson & Áslaug Magnúsdótti and have progressed with alarming maturity in terms of sound and glowing feedback.

They are the winner of Músíktilraunir 2011 - a sort of Icelandic 'Battle of the bands' if you will, although the title of Músíktilraunir sounds all the more impressive frankly. Past winners include Of Monsters and Men (also playing IA this year) and Shogun.

Comparisons can be drawn to Portishead, The Knife et al; so that celestial trip hop aesthetic then. In fact they're not a million miles away from fellow modern day trip-hop-influenced chaps Nedry, who again are also playing IA. Gorgeous.

Nasa (Moshi Moshi) - Friday 20:00
Faktorý Ground Floor (Partyzone) - Saturday 22:00