RAKEL (Iceland) - ‘Nothing Ever Changes’ (EP)
I mentioned Icelandic songwriter RAKEL in passing a few days ago, thanks to her collaboration with fellow countrymen CeaseTone and JóiPé and their track, Ég var að spá‘, which you can read all about here. I say ‘read all about’, I’m not sure I really said anything useful regarding what the track was actually about, but anyway...
I'm speculating but RAKEL’s original connection to Haffi from CeaseTone possibly might have been through the lovely Axel Flóvent, as both artists have performed with him, but actually she’s also played alongside a number of musicians, including the likes of ZAAR and Salóme Katrín. Now it's time to release her own material for the first time, and her music blends both acoustic and electronic styles, as demonstrated in ‘Nothing Ever Changes’, to the extent that actually the diversity slightly astounded me on 1st listen.
It opens with the title track ‘Nothing Ever Changes’, acoustic guitar and RAKEL's vocals immediately become apparent, so pure, smooth and enticing that I almost forgot about the song itself, so captivated was I by her voice - I’ve included a ‘live in session’ performance of the track she recorded also, which again shows just how good those vocals are. The repetition of the phrase ‘Nothing Ever Changes’ clearly just emphasises the point of the track, but the production of the sound, vocals and dreamy ambience just makes this a really special song.
That’s why ‘Our Favourite Line’ was so unexpected, starting with a striking, melancholy melody, before it opens up with a whirr of electronica and beats that slowly seem to take over the song leaving the vocals as a trance like accompaniment. It’s a powerful and surprising song certainly, but then ‘Keeping Me Awake’ is too, with the vocals switching between commanding during the ballad style chorus and soft intimacy at other times.
The EP then concludes with the sad sounding ‘Breaking’, where the instrumentals are a gentle and subtle accompaniment, leaving RAKEL to set out another melancholy Nordic sounding tune, and because it’s so stripped back all the attention is on those vocals.
Clearly RAKEL is a very versatile performer, and to me it doesn’t matter that there is such a variety in styles in just a 4 track EP. ‘Nothing Ever Changes’ has really captured my imagination, with outstanding vocals throughout, rich interesting tunes and some beautiful touches in the accompanying instrumentation - even a hint of CeaseTone in places. We’ll definitely be looking out for her in collaborations on other Icelandic releases, as well as as a solo artist in her own right of course.
Find her on Facebook.
Since I wrote this I've found this lovely interview with RAKEL in Reykjavik Grapevine, where she explains the Axel and HaffI / CeaseTone link (which is pretty central to the project) and more about the tracks. I should research this stuff beforehand really I guess...
Also here’s that lIve session I mentioned.