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  • David Bentley

Myrkvi – Coastline (single)

Iceland’s Myrkvi (Magnús Thorlacius) passed through these columns a few weeks ago but makes a quick return with a summery single, ‘Coastline’. He’s also in because he is booked for Iceland Airwaves in November, one of the few festivals going ahead this year as things stand.

'Coastline' is his third single and the first one released by Sony Denmark. It is about friendship and travel, written when Myrkvi drove down the east coast of Australia with his friend in a campervan.

They promised each other that they would do the same thing again in Iceland one day (although with less sunshine and colder beaches not to mention a lack of kangaroos), as neither had driven the Ring Road around the island. They did that the following summer, joined by two other friends. They filmed the video for 'Coastline' on that trip. I’m glad they could make it. When I used to visit Iceland a lot in the 1990s (I worked for the national airline and tourist board) the ‘ring road’ was only tarmaced for about 30% of its length, the rest was a cart track.

It’s unusual to hear a six-string ukulele leading a song and it does catch the listener’s attention and pin him to what is really just a feel good road song. “I've never felt so good/and if I could/I would stay here forever/where time is standing still” pretty well sums it up.

I’m not sure just what this track says about the direction Icelandic music is moving in. For such a small population they cover just about everything if you think about it. From the gloriously innovative but weird (Björk) via cultured post-rock (Sigur Rós), electronica (GusGus), ethereal fantasy (Of Monsters and Men) to the plain weird (Mugison, who once wrote a song about sending a fart to someone in a bottle). And with a myriad of pro- and semi-pro musicians and bands joining in along the way, almost too many to count. What I can’t remember coming across previously is someone who could be George Formby. Well, musically if not lyrically.

It will be interesting to see just what the Iceland Airwaves crowd makes of him in his solo disguise. As we reported last time he has quite a pedigree with his previous band.

As for the video, well the only observation I can make is that it reminds me of every other video which features the landscape of Iceland, It could have been made by the tourist board (in fact it’s better than the ones they made in my day).

Here we are at Thingvellir (the site of the original and world’s oldest parliament and right on a rift between two tectonic plates), and this is a swimming pool with pure Icelandic glacial water. There are some clouds floating below the mountains and here is the traditional fun version of golf in Iceland where we hit the ball into a lake.

But I suppose if it gets people to go to Iceland Airwaves and see Myrkvi it will have worked. All festivals will struggle to attract foreign visitors this year including that one, even though Iceland reopened its borders this week.

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