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Amiina, Dublin, 29th October 2007

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The four Icelandic ladies who make up Amiina (perhaps best known as the string quartet that plays with Sigur Rós) tonight put on the loveliest music related event of my year. Their music melted my heart and for an hour and a half, they were utterly captivating. Utilising a plethora of unusual instruments and tools, they created an audio experience that felt like Kraftwerk unplugged but one step removed from the modern world. I can think of few ways to spend an evening out that could be more enjoyable.

As well as sounding beautiful, Amiina in action is a treat for the eyes and not just because they are a bunch of pretty ladies. With instrument swapping being the phrase of the evening and a host of wonderful sound-making devices on stage, it was hard to know where to look as so much was going on at once. There were water filled glasses, dulcimers, a harp, bells, synths, glockenspiels and a mandolin among the relatively normal instrumentation; it was like walking into a top class instrument shop rather than a concert. The eclectic instrumentation was not just for show as the musicians used each item as expertly as they could be used. Bowed glockenspiel and xylophone opened the evening, their quiet and strange sounds forced the audience to quieten down and pay attention (and they were in Amiina’s spell for the rest of the night).

The set was made up of old favorites from their debut EP (back from when they had only one "i" in their name) and most of their new album. The new material is gorgeous on disc but so much more vibrant live. The highlight came with "Seoul" and the fantastic bell work by two of the ladies. Amiina were joined by a drummer who worried me as I was afraid the music would be too rocked-up but he played sensitively and delicately with the group. Coming back for two encores, the band were visibly enjoying themselves (there were giggles aplenty from the stage) and they finished off with all four of them bowing saws in unison. The wavey, wobbly sound from the saws was remarkably melodic for a bunch of crude cutting tools and it was hard not to smile from the sheer fun of it all.

It is great to see Amiina step out from the shadow of Sigur Rós. They have been backing the Icelandic superstars for so long with very little credit given to them by most listeners. It's incredible considering just how much they bring to Sigur Rós’ massive sound. Seeing them play a show that gives their buddies a run for their money warms the cockles of my heart.



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