Floating Harmonies - Júníus Meyvant

I stumbled onto this album while I was looking for artists similar to a group that I’ve recently become a big fan of. I’m in the middle of writing up a much longer-form piece on them, so I’ll leave the suspense as to who it is – maybe you can backtrack from this artist they share a nationality, which should actually make it fairly obvious. Regardless, Júníus Meyvant is the artist name for Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson, who performs with a backing of about 10 musicians, two of which are his brothers. Together, the ensemble plays something that Jim Beckmann has dubbed, "arctic soul". This is the only album that they've released to date, but they intend to release another in 2018.

In terms of sound, the best I can say is that they are a combination of blues, folk, and funk, with a little bit of Electric Light Orchestra thrown in there. The general atmosphere and ambiance of the music is very similar to old big band jazz, again mixed with a bit of ELO. The group is very cohesive, and I particularly appreciate that every member of the group seems to know exactly what their role is within the ensemble. There are no heroes here, which is a good thing in this case. The drummer, especially, does a very good job keeping a solid backbeat, while still remaining musically interesting and, essentially, not just sitting, playing four-on-the-floor.

In terms of standout tracks, there are a few. The first I’d think of is the first track on the album, “Be a Man”. It’s an instrumental opener, with a very good, driving bassline in the horns and woodwinds that comes out periodically. This is a very accessible example of this genre, and I can’t say that I don’t find myself nodding along to it, most times.

Other standouts include, “Color Decay,” which features a very interesting instrumentation of guitars, bass, and orchestra in its introduction, along with a very soothing vocal line, “Manos,” a seven-minute exploration fo the group’s instrumentation that very fluidly builds in instrumentation over its runtime, and the eponymous track, “Floating Harmonies,” which features a very interesting use of electronic drums in this musical setting, and some very tasteful use of the accessory instrumentation in this more closed, piano-vocals-and-drums context.

There are a few bits of the album that feel a little bit too much like Mumford and Sons to me, if that’s as communicative of what I’m getting at as I think it will be, but it doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience. Not to say anything negative about Mumford and Sons in general, I just feel that that particular atmosphere of music was out of place in the context of the rest of the album.

Overall, it seems a very solid effort, and is certainly relatively unique in terms of what I’ve been hearing of late. Pretty solid, 7/10.