This week: the Icelandic folk-pop duo Pascal Pinon discuss some of the influences that went into the creation of their recent album Sundur.
Twin sisters Ásthildur and Jófríður Ákadóttir formed Pascal Pinon in 2009, taking the name from an early 1900s circus performer. Their sound is minimalist and folk-based yet sweepingly majestic. The influences of Bjork and Tegan & Sara are also clear in both their experimental edge, and the duo’s way with a heartbreaking hook. Their third album Sundur is certainly the most beautiful and transformative album this jaded old writer has heard all year.
Jófríður says of Sundur, “One of the challenges we set for ourselves in making the new album was to make music using as few elements as possible.” And this completely evident in its sparse orchestration and fragile soundscapes. However this belies the huge emotional weight below the surface.
I asked Jófríður about the influences that went into the creation of Sundur, and her choices are suitably melancholic yet cathartically uplifting…
1) Robbie Basho – Orphan’s Lament
Robbie died when he was 45 years-old during a freak chiropractor accident. His music will live forever though. My favourite moment listening to this song was driving to the airport in New York after a recording session in the middle of the night, on full blast.
2) Fischer Dieskau – Schubert’s Die Winterreise
My sister Ásthildur put this forward. I have a beautiful memory of her playing this piece with our friend Óli, in the magical church in Seyðisfjörður, east of Iceland.
3) Joni Mitchell – River
There’s something quite wintery about this piece, its piano melodies remind you of a Christmas song and Joni’s voice has a similar warmth to a candle that you can put your hands around or a fireplace that you sit beside on cold evenings. The song itself and its lyrics are probably some of the most powerful and straight-to-the-heart compositions I’ve heard and its minimalism emphasises the power rather than bringing it down.
4) Kría Brekkan – Bee Xlaura
I found this song when I was 15 years old or so and it’s such a hidden treasure. It has a childish playfulness combined with intricate songwriting.
5) Sin Fang – Landslide (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Sadness, softness, sparseness. Sindri’s interpretation nails it.
6) Fischer Dieskau – Hugo Wolf’s Der Feuerreiter
This is another one of Ásthildur’s suggestions. It’s some fucked up stuff.
7) Debussy – La Chevelure
Magical Debussy, mysterious and gentle, slightly eerie and melancholic yet warm and tender.
8) James Blake – f.o.r.e.v.e.r.
I think this tune is James’s ultimate ode to Joni Mitchell. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to, I imagine he poured a lot of emotions into this, probably more than he’s comfortable with.
9) Fleetwood Mac – Songbird
Stevie Nicks’ old wonky zebra patterned console used to be in this studio in Brooklyn.
This is my karaoke song.
“And I love you I love you I love you like never before…”
10) Joanna Newsom – Peach Plum Pear
I first heard this song on Myspace and was completely transcended. I took my mum’s laptop to the library in Reykjavík cause we didn’t have internet at home, I spent hours there, online, listening to music and staring out the window into the ocean.
Pascal Pinon’s third album Sindur is available right now from their Bandcamp page. The duo are also touring the UK in November on the following dates:
18/11/2016 – The Waiting Room, London
19/11/2016 – The Louisiana, Bristol
20/11/2016 – The Hope, Brighton