Iceland’s Virgin Orchestra have made a sombre debut with the release of their first two songs, both appearing on a self-titled EP which will be supported soon by a short tour beginning in Berlin. The pair of tracks on the release are understated yet powerful musings. They bring together elements of the 90s Lilith Fair festival, the ethereal nature of Sigur Rós, Portishead, trip-hop, and the bleak guitar work of Joy Division.

First up is the melancholic “on your knees”, an ‘anthem of tragedy.’

“The listener is placed in a situation where prisoners of war are being publicly executed, one after the other,” says the band. “A deep sense of melancholy urgency is channeled through piercing, melodic guitar lines and relentlessly pounding drums. The vocals and cello carry hopelessness and dread as they go from near-silent whispers into screams, as if calling for help.

The second track, “give in”, is about being trapped in the liminal state between wakefulness and sleep, as one finds themselves sinking deeper and deeper into substance abuse. The music fluctuates between mellow highs and painful lows, lending an uncertainty as to when each state will be brought about–and when and how this situation will end.

Listen to the songs below:

Virgin Orchestra is comprised of Stefanía Pálsdóttir, Starri Holm and Rún Árnadóttir, all based in Reykjavík. They first met as students in the music department of the Icelandic University of the Arts, and the coming together of three dissimilar but like-minded musicians that were united by exciting musical ventures.

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