This album was originally released by 12 Tónar in 2006 under the moniker 'Lost in Hildurness'. The first solo recording from Hildur Guðnadóttir (who is a member of the Nix Noltes band and has performed regularly with múm and Pan Sonic). In her dreamy soundworld she plays the cello, gamba, zither, khuur and the gamelan so this cd sounds like nothing else. This is exciting, tranquil, and melancholic stuff and at times it makes you think of a lost place and times gone by - and the music has the power to take you there. Recording sessions took place both in New York and in a house in Hólar, Iceland, specifically chosen for its good cello acoustics. It is strictly a solo album, Hildur has attempted to "involve other people as little as I could." Like the cover art, it is personal and intimate.
It has been called "the perfect soundtrack to get lost in a forest at night", but this version, remastered by Denis Blackham, sounds fresher and better than ever.
“I can’t catch it. Finally I see that every line is really the same thought said in another way. And yet the continuity acts as if something else is happening. Nothing else is happening. What you’re doing, in an almost Proustian way, is getting deeper and deeper saturated into the thought.”
This is Morton Feldman talking about a libretto Samuel Beckett wrote for the composer, but it could equally apply to the way that the cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir builds her compositions. Multi-tracking her cello, as well as viola da gamba, zither, vibraphone, one-piece gamelan, voice and more, she emerges with teeming, resonant soundscapes. Her themes and melodies are simple, rarely more than a few bars, but the way she overlaps and combines them or pits them against long held tones, gives her music a tension between restless activity and quiet stasis, as well as an intuitive, almost improvised feel.
You could certainly call some of the work here “filmic.” “Floods” in particular has an urgent, up-tempo phrase at its center that could easily be a soundtrack cue. But to hang the lazy “cinematic” tag on this music would sell it short. Guðnadóttir weaves too many lines together, makes the overall sound too full and rich, and uses repetition to cast such a strong spell that the incidental nature of cinematic scores just doesn’t apply.
Only the length of the album at times detracts from this spell. Combined with the way the cello dominates the timbral range — giving the whole a misted, twilight cast — the album drags in places or slips too much into the background. But before too much monotony sinks in, Guðnadóttir eases a lilting zither into the bottom of the mix to give a piece like “Casting” an aleatory feel. She also doesn’t waste time without intros or outros too much, preferring instead to dive right into her material, in what feels like mid-thought.
It’s touches like these that give Mount A the feel of a virtuoso sketch artist, one who might draw the same shape dozens of times and never be finished, but whose figures always pulse with vigor and ideas.