Tag Archives: Valgeir Sigurðsson

Ten Records that Blur The Line Between Electronic and Classical Music

Murc of Wagner

Murcof x Vanessa Wagner by Pierre Emmanuel Rastoin.

Considering how closely aligned electronic and classical music have been for decades—from string-laden samples and Philip Glass-like synth grooves to questionable covers like Tiësto’s dopey trance anthem take on Samuel Barber—it should come as no surprise that line between the two has become blurred over time. In fact, it seems pointless to peg many of today’s artists to either.

“I have always been surprised to hear my albums classified as ‘ambient,'” says Polish composer Michał Jacaszek. “They may have ambient elements—like deep reverb or delayed textures—but I prefer an ‘electro-acoustic’ label.”

“I don’t think I’d ever classify my own music in any modern classical sense,” adds producer/12k founder Taylor Deupree. While he’s collaborated with the legendary Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto several times (Disappearance, Perpetual), Deupree sees more parallels between traditional and progressive music forms in the work of his longtime labelmate, Kenneth Kirschner.

“Ken often uses the sounds of traditional classical music,” explains Deupree, “but with very modern and very minimalist compositions. I think that’s where the interest and strength lies in this type of music—where the inspiration comes from people like [Morton] Feldman and [John] Cage.”

That’s certainly been the case with a recent string of records from Mexican producer Murcof and pianist Vanessa Wagner. Last year’s Statea LP reinterpreted everything from John Adams to Aphex Twin, and this summer’s EP.02 pays tribute to Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, and Morton Feldman without tarring the originals in techno-fusion tropes.

“The piano is the starting point of our project,” explains Wagner. “It’s important that electronic effects do not swallow its sound, even if it is sometimes distorted. Similarly, it also seemed very important to stay true to the scores of composers that we interpret.”

The same can often be said for post-classical provocateurs like Alarm Will Sound, the chamber orchestra famous for flipping Aphex Twin on his already twisted head. The following feature isn’t about concert halls invading the club, however, or vice versa. This is closer to the middle ground where it’s never clear what’s being “played” and what’s being “produced.”

Here are 10 essential classically-inclined electronic albums.

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Bedroom Community’s Valgeir Sigurðsson Explains the Strange History of Dissonance in Classical Music


On his fourth album, and first since 2012’s Architecture of Loss, Valgeir Sigurðsson found himself pulled in many different directions. The Icelandic composer has long had a foot in two worlds, working in classical music while also producing songs for Feist, CocoRosie, and Björk. He’s got a full professional studio mere steps away from home, and he’s also a father of three. Sigurðsson will be the first to admit he can’t be everything to everyone—but sometimes it feels like he’s being asked to try.

That push and pull informs the melodic—and often dark—Dissonance. To gain control over every element of the album’s eight compositions, Sigurðsson recorded string players in small groups before layering the audio to create a full orchestra. The resulting sound is both lush and surreal, with Sigurðsson likening the result to walking around a concert hall during a performance—zooming in on whatever sound catches your ear. We talked with the producer about the strange history of dissonance in classical music, the unique advantage to being Icelandic, and why the genre term “indie classical” only tells half the story.

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