Icelandic theremin musician Hekla offers her second album of haunting, spectral soundscape-songwriting Xiuxiuejar, a sonic black hole of corrosive beauty and mesmerising darkness.
“I grew up mostly in Barcelona, but after being so long now back in Iceland I have really come to love the Catalan language,” Hekla writes. “The word Xiuxiuejar felt right for the album. It means to whisper.” This sense of understatement, of quietude, of intentionality permeates her new album. Tiny, single artefacts are delicately placed about a desolate negative space, creating a textural structure built on and around silence. And while the album is constructed from songs, the sheer, dense gravity of Hekla’s sonics aligns Xiuxiuejar with avant-garde, musique concréte and sound-art, yielding an album to mimic Iceland’s barren rocky landscapes, permanight and folkloric Magick.
The album also sees Hekla employ the cello, her second instrument. She combines a grindingly heavy bowing technique with blistering distortion and sparse, thumping bass hits to craft a soundworld beyond her usual timbres but totally in keeping with her key themes and imagery. A neat progression and compositional development from her previous works that preserves an exciting ongoing mythology.