(19 Jun 2014: Mercury Lounge New York)
After his short performance at CMJ last year, Ásgeir Trausti was slow to return to New York for a proper performance, coming over from Iceland more than six months after that gig (a Spring show at Rough Trade ended up being cancelled though it he was spotted in the US at a Hozier show). The time in between allowed him to release In the Silence, an English language version (translation help came from John Grant) of his debut album Dýrð í dauðaþögn, that had been picked up by at least 10% of Iceland’s population.
The Mercury Lounge show had been sold out for months but, when the day finally arrived, the venue never seemed to pack to capacity. That was fortunate for the folks at the front who were dancing along in the gloomy atmosphere that Ásgeir wallowed in. The singer-songwriter was backed by four musicians including his older brother and the album’s producer, throughout his mixed Icelandic/English set, performing the songs from both versions of his powerful debut.
Highlights of the evening were “King and Cross” and “Torrent”, two of the most active tracks on his album. The latter is the most propulsive and dramatic on the album but the former has a plucky enveloping warmth to it. Ásgeir also performed a new song “Ocean” that sounded soulful and fantastic plus his sparse cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” that pushes the upper limit of his vocal range. What the band lacks in showmanship, which is forgiven since they are new, is more than covered by the exquisite music, reminiscent at times of Bon Iver or José González. Ásgeir is sure to be an artist to watch in 2014.
“King and Cross” Official Video
“Heart Shaped Box” (live snippet):