• Andy Wors

Red Barnett - 'Astronaut' (single)


It’s been so long since I wrote about Icelandic artist Red Barnett that before I could listen to new song ‘Astronaut’ I felt obliged to go and listen to his album ‘Shine’, the 2015 release that I liked so much when I first heard it, and which subsequently went on to win the Iceland Music Awards prize for best alternative album. It was some album, from the powerful melancholic strains of ‘A Song for the Missing’, through to acoustic opener ‘Every Second Counts’, and it’s been a lovely way to start the weekend to re-acquaint myself with it.

Behind Red Barnett is the Icelandic multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, songwriter, composer and collaborator Halli Sveinbjörnsson, a guy with such a rich musical biography that we really wouldn’t know where to start – although the concerts he did with heavy metal band Skálmöld and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra are particularly of note, having sold out multiple nights and winning further recognition at the Iceland Music Awards – this time for best musical event of the year.

He’s clearly a busy chap, but thankfully he’s still found time to write new material for Red Barnett, and ‘Astronaut’ is a stunning track. My first reaction when I initially listened to it was that I’ve rarely heard such beautifully constructed and powerful melodic indie rock since fellow countrymen Monotown burst on to the scene a few years back, and then coincidentally I couldn’t help but notice a Daði Birgisson is listed of one of many additional musicians on the Bandcamp credits – and I’m pretty sure he is one of the guys from Monotown, which is rather nice if I'm correct in my musical jigsaw construction.

Anyway aside from all of that please take a listen, I’m just so excited by not only this track but the potential of a whole album of new Red Barnett material, and with such a bigger, expansive sound too. Just listen to the way ‘Astronaut’ develops, the string arrangements add an intensity some 1 ½ minutes in, and then the whole thing kicks on again just over a minute later with a wall of instrumental sound but still carried forward by the keyboard theme that opened the song in the 1st place. It’s compelling stuff.

This is ‘Astronaut’.

The song was partly recorded at the legendary Rockfield Music Studios in Monmouthshire, Wales.


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