Bjarki will be a familiar face to those following Nina Kraviz's label, трип (Trip). The Icelandic producer has been active for near on five years, but considers this month's Happy Earthday his debut.
This makes a lot of sense upon listening. The DNA of Bjarki's previous work is present, but everything sounds less piecemeal. It turns to older influences, wearing a Boards-of-Canada-sound on its sleeve. It also manages to hear forward to futuristic sounds.
Decaying analogue twangs interact with glitchy drums like two species exploring each other for the first time. The two elements feel distinct and alien from one another — but there is still so much joy in their meeting. The Boards-like elements feel blasted by nuclear fallout, delicate and faltering. The album feels aware, or even ashamed, of being unoriginal. That manifests, thankfully, in a very listenable way.
Happy Earthday's delicacy does not reflect artistic cowardice. It is sensititvity, subtlety. An antidote to boisterous artists who can sometimes dominate electronic music. Even when cutting loose on tracks like ‘AN6912’, it still feels narcotic.
A meditative, mindful album, with an appealing and glacial directionlessness. Nothing combines or coalesces to a conceptual whole here. But it fills an empty room with comfort.
Words by Andrew O’Keefe