Gyda (múm) covers Prokofiev, Schubert, and Messiaen new solo album, premieres Harry Partch tracks “Ancient Mode I & II”

Gyda (múm) covers Prokofiev, Schubert, and Messiaen new solo album, premieres Harry Partch tracks "Ancient Mode I & II"

Gyda Valtýsdóttir has spent her musical life involved with some of the major figures of modern music — prominently as a founder of the beloved group múm, and also as in her collaborations with Jóhann Jóhannsson, Ólöf Arnalds, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, and many more. Now, though, the Icelandic cellist is looking back to the past (like: way, WAY back) on Epicycle, a solo record which charts the lifespan of western music itself from its earliest incarnations through the 20th century.

A re-release of an Icelandic-only record from 2016, the now-international, nine track album sees Gyda drawing from her both her classical training and her fascination with the all-things-ancient-and-mysterious to craft a small epic of music’s development throughout history — and, perhaps, humankind’s development alongside it. A pretty ambitious concept, to be sure; but Gyda’s style is such that it makes whatever she’s playing (whether it’s the sacred music of 12th century Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen or the 20th century avant-garde stylings of George Crumb — both of whose work appears here) feel both epic and immediate as she conjures each powerful melody into being with her reverent and characteristically spacious, Deep Listening-inspired approach.

A high point of the record consists of Gyda’s own interpretations of Harry Partch’s studies of ancient Greek music, included here as “Ancient Modes I & II”. Partch — an iconic, 20th century west coast pioneer of microtonal music, compulsive instrument inventor, and noted eccentric — feels like a kindred spirit to Gyda, and the sense that these two creative minds are speaking to each other across the whole history of composed music is, well, pretty much shiver-inducing. But, even though we’re compulsively shivering, we’re still happy to premiere the two “Ancient Modes” for you today.

Epicycle in all its glory will be available on October 13, in both digital and limited vinyl editions, from figureight. Pre-order it here, and be sure to listen to “Ancient Modes I & II” for yourself down below so that we can all get together later and compare goosebumps.


Epicycle tracklisting:

01. Vision - Prokofiev
02. Seikilos Epitaph
03. Ancient Mode I - Harry Partch
04. Ancient Mode II - Harry Partch
05. Opus 100 - Franz Schubert
06. God Music - George Crumb
07. Im Wunderschönen Monat Mai - Robert Schumann
08. Louange à l’Éternité de Jesus - Olivier Messiaen
09. Ave Generosa - Hildegard Von Bingen

Most Read