The Sound Cafe
Icelandic Duo BSÍ Release ‘Relax, Blabla' - AA-Single
Photo Credit: Julie Sjöfn Gasiglia
BSÍ are best friends Silla Thoraresen (drums and vocals) and Julius Pollux Rothlaender (bass guitar and toe synths). Named after their hometown of Reykjavik’s central bus terminal — dubbed the most miserable location in all of Iceland — the band started life as a way for the duo to experiment with some instruments that they didn't yet know how to play.
With soft and gauzy atmospherics countered by anxiety-inducing sprawls of melodic mastery, ‘Relax, blabla’ is another paradoxical release that comes in two parts. Arriving just in time for the heady nostalgia of a sun-baked summer, the two-sided release consists of two enticing new tracks: one bristling and upbeat, and the other more supine and slowed.
Recorded and mixed by Árni Hjörvar (The Vaccines), the first and fastest of the two new cuts, “Jelly Belly”, plays out like a heartwarming group therapy session, with past pains and trudged up traumas meeting a 157 bpm outburst of agitation and infectious joy. With a sense of urgency driven by a fast-paced guitar line that threatens to run away with itself, overflowing background chatter mixed with injections of fuzzy feedback and a lucid approach to vocal delivery, the track evokes the intense bodily sensation that is triggered by deep-rooted and unshakeable memories of toxic relationships.
With playful rhythms masking a more sombre subject matter, the track comes complete with a prismatic official music video created by Icelandic filmmaker and TV director Ugla Hauksdóttir (The Power, Hanna, Snowfall, Trapped). Touching on the numbness that comes with covering up your own feelings in shame and the heavy burden of grappling with rigid gender roles and unhealthy peer pressure, the video sees its mishmash of characters search for, find and reinvent themselves in a warped wallpaper utopia. Of the video, Ugla explains:
“The music video for “Jelly Belly” is a playful ode to childhood, celebrating the freedom of self expression. It is a reminder for us not to take ourselves too seriously and instead remember to have fun.”
Also reaching to the past to touch on painful memories, the release’s second, slower cut “New Moon” is more atmospheric and airy: boasting the duo’s genre-hopping breadth as soft acoustic guitar twangs meddle with almost whispered vocals and a sparse landscape of instrumentals that seem to fade away into nothingness.
Reflecting on memories of an estranged and isolated youth — and the feeling of being “the only blue-haired person in a schoolyard full of blondes” — the track is tinted with adolescent nostalgia as its whispered melodies drift by like a lone tumbleweed in a desolate stretch of desert.
Both “Jelly Belly” and “New Moon” will be available together as the split AA-single: ‘Relax, blabla’, from 28 April 2022.
Escalating beyond a bit of fun between friends mucking about with new instruments, BSÍ gained widespread acclaim with their whimsical and genre-bending style, fearlessness and drive to do whatever they feel without taking themselves too seriously.
Releasing their debut album ‘Sometimes depressed … but always antifascist’ last year, the duo were praised for their ability to “hit that genre-surfing sweet spot managing to convey extremes of soundscapes and emotions” (Snack) with the record being dubbed a “multidimensional introduction roaring with raw energy” (Atwood Magazine). The band even won "Best Song (Rock)" for the featured single 'Vesturbæjar Beach' at the 2022 Icelandic Music Awards.
Split into two halves, the album’s first five tracks were peppered with overcast rhythms, heartbreak and melancholy with its latter five embodying riot grrrl-esque lo-fi punk. With its two disparate halves showcasing BSÍ’s expansive breadth, the first touched on the feeling of endlessly falling and the vulnerability and intimacy of loss and leaving, while the second celebrated sunny summer days, salty knees and the idea of a feminist world revolution.
A short year, a handful of live shows — including sets at the Netherlands’ renowned showcase Eurosonic Noorderslag, Berlin’s Reeperbahn Festival and a run of UK dates supporting The Vaccines — and usually too few rehearsals later, the two-piece are back with another two-sided affair in the shape of ‘Relax, blabla’.
Artwork by: Silla Thorarensen