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A Music Fan's Guide To Reykjavík Venues

Words by
Gunnar Jónsson

Photography by
Golli

I'm standing in the lobby of Hlemmur Square, a hotel and hostel in downtown Reykjavík. All around me, tourists pore over maps, drink beers, and happily discuss their traveling plans. Yes, they are going whale watching in the morning. Yes, that Icelandic beer they're drinking is delicious, and no, they don't seem to be listening to the ambient music that streams from a set of speakers in the corner. Between the speakers stands Nicolas Kunysz, musician and co-owner of independent music label Lady Boy Records. A guitar lies on a table in front of him, and he intermittently strokes the strings whilst fiddling with electronic effects boxes strewn around him. The resulting sound is more akin to a gentle cloud than guitar music, but it's entrancing. As expressed by its progenitor Brian Eno, ambient music's core philosophy is that it should be "as interesting as it is ignorable." But standing here amidst the tourists, whose chatter is threatening to drown out Nicolas' tender music completely, one wonders if ambient music has been demoted to "just ignorable."
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I'm standing in the lobby of Hlemmur Square, a hotel and hostel in downtown Reykjavík. All around me, tourists pore over maps, drink beers, and happily discuss their traveling plans. Yes, they are going whale watching in the morning. Yes, that Icelandic beer they're drinking is delicious, and no, they don't seem to be listening to the ambient music that streams from a set of speakers in the corner. Between the speakers stands Nicolas Kunysz, musician and co-owner of independent music label Lady Boy Records. A guitar lies on a table in front of him, and he intermittently strokes the strings whilst fiddling with electronic effects boxes strewn around him. The resulting sound is more akin to a gentle cloud than guitar music, but it's entrancing. As expressed by its progenitor Brian Eno, ambient music's core philosophy is that it should be "as interesting as it is ignorable." But standing here amidst the tourists, whose chatter is threatening to drown out Nicolas' tender music completely, one wonders if ambient music has been demoted to "just ignorable."
This content is only visible under subscription. Subscribe here or log in.

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