Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson

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Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson
Born 1954 (age 62–63)
Origin Iceland
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Website www.islandia.is/gko/

Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson (born December 11, 1954) is an Icelandic musician.

Music career[edit]

Early bands[edit]

Steinblóm (Stone Flowers) by 1969, was his first group. It was a trio formed by Guðlaugur in electric and acoustic guitars, Haraldur Johannessen in acoustic guitar as well, and Gunnar Magnússon in acoustic bass. Steinblóm played punk versions of renowned artists as Bob Dylan and his British counterpart Donovan, besides some original songs composed by Guðlaugur himself, and some folk songs. At that time, he was experimenting with homemade electro-acoustic guitars and amplifiers. Steinblóm did some gigs in Reykjavík and the suburbs.
The end of the band came when Guðlaugur moved from Reykjavík to Laugarvatn in order to assist high school.[citation needed]

Lótus was the next group. Created when being at the Laugarvatn high school, the group was active since 1972, and then in 1974 and 1975 and played all over Iceland in 1974 when the country celebrated its 1,100th anniversary (Iceland was founded in 874). Lótus was basically a rock band whose members were Guðlaugur and Guðjón Sigurbjörnsson both on electric guitars, Böðvar Helgi Sigurðsson on electric bass, Guðmann Þorvaldsson on drums, and the vocalist Sigurður Ingi Pálsson.
The music performed by Lótus was in the style of jazz-rock of Dave Brubeck and some original songs written by Guðlaugur, including arrangements to Mozart and Beethoven in a rock style. Just like his first band, Lótus did not release any record, but they did some two-track recordings although they are believed to be lost..
Lótus disbanded in 1975 when Guðlaugur returned to Reykjavík to study at the Polytechnic Division of the University of Iceland.[citation needed]

He joined Sextettinn (Sextet) in 1977 when he was at University. On this group he joined guitarist Sveinbjörn Baldvinsson, Gunnar Hrafnsson (bass), Stefán Stefánsson (saxophone), Guðjón Hilmarsson (drums), and finally Kristín Jóhannsdóttir the vocalist. The music of Sextettinn was made of original themes performed in several different styles from country-rock, pop-rock to pop-jazz. This group was an important core of original and creative song writing.
Sextettinn gave several gigs throughout Iceland and also had a presentation at the local TV station, however, Guðlaugur stayed for a short time, as University studies were taking most of his time. The remaining members of the group followed on under a different name: Ljósin í Bænum, (The Lights of the City) and released an album still popular in Iceland.

Shortly after, Guðlaugur joined a group called Galdrakarlar & Wilma Reading (The Wizards & Wilma Reading) during the boreal summer of 1977. This band was very important and consisted of brass, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The band toured Iceland and gave around 30 concerts. Wilma Reading the vocalist, was the leader of the group. She was an Australian singer and actress with roots in Broadway and Hollywood.
The music style of Galdrakarlar & Wilma Reading was mainly jazz-oriented musicals with influences from George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Hammerstein II to Duke Ellington.
The members of Galdrakarlar & Wilma Reading, besides Guðlaugur and Wilma Reading, were: Birgir Einarsson (trumpet), Hlöðver Smári Haraldsson (keyboards), Hreiðar Sigurjónsson (clarinet and saxophone baritone), Pétur Hjálmarsson (electric bass), Sófus Jón Björnsson (drums), Stefán Stefánsson (saxophone soprano and flute).[citation needed]

Þeyr[edit]

By January 1981, a new band was created with the name of Þeyr and Guðlaugur Óttarsson joined Þorsteinn Magnússon in guitars, Hilmar Örn Agnarsson in electric bass, the vocalist Magnús Guðmundsson, and Sigtryggur Baldursson, the drummer.[citation needed]

The first concert with Þeyr took place on January 28 at the Hótel Saga. Þeyr was a group very sophisticated with a deep philosophical and physic inspiration, since all its members were by then intellectuals in music, sciences, philosophy, religion and even magic: “We were looking for a kind of ‘Theory of Everything’ which would unite all known disciplines of mankind into one coherent structure of wisdom. One man’s religion is another man’s magic, one man’s science is another man’s religion, etc... The very fact of us being here on Earth is both magical and religious, as well as scientific and philosophical. We went deeply into the ancient Nordic wisdom (before 800 A.C.) as well as the Middle Age’s alchemy as well as the dawn of the Galilean/Newtonian era up to the present Einstein/Heisenberg era”.[citation needed]

By that time, Guðlaugur was musically influenced by Igor Fedorovich Stravinsky, Alexander Scriabin, Joy Division, Holger Czukay, The Birthday Party, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nina Hagen, David Byrne, Yes, Genesis, Grateful Dead, and John McLaughlin.[citation needed]

By spring 1981 their first single was on the streets. It was Life Transmission which contained the title song, the first work sung in English by the band. By autumn they came up with Iður til Fóta, a four-track single and its cassette version featured "Brennu-Njálssaga", the soundtrack to the film by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson about Njál's saga.
By late 1981 Þeyr released an album titled Mjötviður Mær, which contained songs like "Iss", "Þeir" and "2999" that could be deemed as attempts to create a futuristic pop style thanks to the use of voice distortions and additional beats and keyboards. On this record “Úlfur” stands out for embodying an angry voice style turning it into one of the most important, with “Mjötviður”, an instrumental song, and “Rúdolf”, an antifascist song performed in a rock anger mood.[citation needed]

In 1982 Þeyr released their last album with the title of As Above.... This work contains English versions of the group’s hits. An important song of this record was “Killer Boogie”, since it is considered as an attempt to achieve an international position. Also by 1982 the group performed on a concert in Reykjavík which was recorded and went out as a live concert release named Rokk í Reykjavík (“Rock in Reykjavík”). This concert gathered some of the most important bands at that time like Purrkur Pillnikk and Tappi Tíkarrass. Þeyr appeared in this compilation with two songs: “Killer Boogie” and “Rúdolf”. By the same year the group released an EP titled The Fourth Reich which contained a stronger use of percussion and rhythmic efforts than previous works, songs that stand out in this respect were “Zen” and “Blood”, with a deeper rock-style music.[citation needed]

Also by 1982, Jaz Coleman, the singer of Killing Joke, had moved to Iceland because he feared that the end of the world was looming. Once there, he collaborated with several music bands, but above all with Þeyr, and even created a group originally called Iceland, but subsequently renamed Niceland by Guðlaugur. Although this group was formed by Coleman and Þeyr’s musicians, it did not include Þorsteinn Magnússon, the other guitarist.
After rehearsing for weeks, Niceland was ready to record 5 songs in 1983, but two of them were not finished; the three recorded songs were: “Guess Again”, “Catalyst” and “Take What’s Mine”. They have never been released officially and still remain as unpublished material.[citation needed]

In 1983 Þeyr released the last singe: Lunaire and by June of the same year the band broke up.[citation needed]

In 2001, next to the support of family members and friends, he released a CD to commemorate Þeyr’s 20th anniversary. This CD contained newly discovered mixes of Iður til Fóta y Mjötviður Mær, and thus the CD was named Mjötviður til Fóta and it is currently the only available record of Þeyr. The other records have never been reissued because the masters are believed to be lost.[citation needed]

KUKL and The Elgar Sisters[edit]

Following Þeyr, Guðlaugur and Sigtryggur joined Einar Örn Benediktsson, the vocalist of Purrkur Pillnikk, Einar Arnaldur Melax kaeyboardist from Medúsa, Björk Guðmundsdóttir, vocalist of Tappi Tíkarrass and bassist Birgir Mogensen from Spilafífl when Ásmundur Jónsson from Gramm (the most important record company in Iceland at that time) wanted to create a new band with all the cutting-edge artists at the moment to perform for the last edition of the radio program Áfangar which had been cancelled. After composing and rehearsing for two weeks the group appeared under the name of KUKL (“Sorcery“, in Medieval Icelandic).[1]

Although the style of music performed by KUKL was a type of dark gothic rock in the style of Killing Joke and innovative references of The Fall's post punk, it was later defined by Björk as “existential jazz-punk-hardcore”. KUKL’s music had rich compositions with a very advanced tonal structure, as Guðlaugur points out: “We had more in common with Stravinsky and Scriabin than with the Sex Pistols. We were also beyond the politics of the hippy, rock and punk thinking. We were driven by our musical discoveries and creative urge.”[citation needed]

While touring through Iceland, they performed with the pro anarchy group Crass and subsequently visited the United Kingdom in a series of gigs with Flux of Pink Indians.

Their first release was the single Söngull in 1983, a version of “Dismembered”, corresponding to their following release of The Eye, an album that came to light in 1984. With respect to this work, Sounds magazine gave it 5 stars (excellent) for expanding the music imposed by Crass Records. With decaying metals, disrupted rock sounds and vocal inflections of “Assassin” that show the essence of this album. There are as well other songs like “The Spire” that stands out with central phrases overlapped to background lines and the song “Anna”, maker of a threatening environment.[citation needed]

By September 14, 1984, KUKL performed in Paris, from which they recorded a cassette edited by French independent record label V.I.S.A. with the title of KUKL à Paris 14.9.84. KUKL continued with another album titled Holidays in Europe (The Naughty Nought) in 1986 and it was also released through Crass Records. This work is far much complex and all wind instruments were replaced by keyboards and bells. Songs like “A Mutual Thrill” have an exquisite mélange of pop and an experimental post-indie sort of music.[citation needed]

At this moment, Þór Eldon Jónsson, the guitarist of Medúsa had been dating Björk and she became pregnant, so KUKL became into a very exhausting task. Plus, Einar Örn was studying in London and when he came back to Iceland in the summer of 1986 decided that KUKL was over and a new project should be set up in order to deal with the group’s expenditures. That is how The Sugarcubes came into being. KUKL thus broke up. Guðlaugur y Birgir Mogensen were the only musicians who did not continue on the new project.[2]

The Elgar Sisters was a group created by Guðlaugur and Björk which coexisted with KUKL, although it lasted a little bit longer. This group in spite of not having released any album, managed to record 11 songs in from 1984 to 1986. Guðlaugur Óttarsson not only took the place as an electric and acoustic guitarist, but also was responsible for the composition of most of the songs. Björk, besides of being the vocalist, composed three songs (two with Guðlaugur). So, The Elgar Sisters could be seen as their duo project.
Besides them, Elgar Sisters had the presence of other musicians: Birgir Mogensen in electric bass, Einar Melax in keyboards, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (HÖH) in keyboards and synthetic drums, Sigtryggur Baldursson in drums and percussion and Þorsteinn Magnússon in electric guitar.
Only a few songs recorded by Elgar Sisters came to light through Björks’s solo career and on Guðlaugur’s solo album released by late 2005.[3][4][5][6]

Other music projects[edit]

Hættuleg Hljómsveit (“The Dangerous Orchestra”) was a group in which he participated along Magnús Þór Jónsson (Megas), Björk, Birgir Baldursson, and Haraldur Þorsteinsson. This group, which was active between 1990 and 1991 was established after the release of Hættuleg hljómsveit & glæpakvendið Stella, an album by Megas in 1990. The band did many concerts in South-western Iceland, in the outskirts of Reykjavík and later in rural areas of Northern Iceland, but by this period Björk was no longer a member. Hættuleg Hljómsveit never released any record.[citation needed]

MÖK Trio was a group formed by bassist Tómas Magnús Tómasson (mainly known by his work in Stuðmenn), Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, and Guðlaugur. In fact, the name stemmed from the initials corresponding to the middle name of each member. Their first gig was approximately by 1992. MÖK Trio did not use to play regularly and they never released any album. Their last presentation was in August 2001 at Galdrahátíðin á Ströndum, Reykjavík.[citation needed]

INRI: was a project of Magnús Jensson. Guðlaugur joined Magnús and played extensively through Iceland in irregular periods from 1993. Some tracks were recorded in 1995.[citation needed]

GVDL: was a group created in 2001 with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and bassist Georg Bjarnason for the arrival of the American band Fuck. In fact, the initials GVDL correspond to Fuck switched a place. This band only had one performance at Kaffi Reykjavík.[citation needed]

Collaborations[edit]

Collaborations with Psychic TV: in 1984 added guitars on Psychic TV’s album Those Who Do Not. This work was produced by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Guðlaugur Óttarsson put in use one of his inventions, the P-Orridgemeter. It was a device that could be programmed within any given pulse of frequency and be activated by them to make an identical structure and pattern for other sampled sound. By this means, digital or sound samples were “played” by individuals who were not present in the space-time sense. For instance, a vocalist could activate a bells sound. This could be recorded as an identical pattern and then the voice was erased.
In 1987 the tracks of this work were reissued with a different name, Live in Reykjavik, an album which was released by Temple Records, the record label owned by Genesis P-Orridge.

Collaborations with Megas: Guðlaugur has contributed with several albums by Megas, the Icelandic rock father, as a guitarist, arranger and composer. His first contribution was in 1987 for the album Loftmynd and in 1988 appeared again on Höfuðlausnir which featured Björk and Rose McDowell as backing vocalists.
By 1990 Guðlaugur added guitars on Hættuleg Hljómsveit & Glæpakvendið Stella, an album featuring The Sugarcubes. In 1992 appeared on Þrír Blóðdropar, an album with the additional collaboration of Bubbi Morthens, Móeiður Júníusdóttir, and drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson. Another album followed in 1994, it was Drög að Upprisu.[7]

In 2002 Guðlaugur contributions are featured on the compilation Megas 1972-2002 and the same year joined Megas playing the song “Edge and Over” for Fálkar, the soundtrack to Friðriksson’s film Falcons.[citation needed]

Collaborations with Bubbi Morthens: in 1989 worked with singer Bubbi Morthens for the 10 track album Nóttin Langa and part of this work is featured on Bubbi’s Sögur 1980-1990, a compilation released in 1999.[citation needed]

Featuring with Björk: in August 1993 Björk released Venus as a Boy featuring an Elgar Sisters song, “Stígðu Mig” on the second CD. By November Big Time Sensuality went out and it featured others Elgar songs, “Síðasta Ég” and “Glora”.
On November 4, 2002 Björk released a CD box titled Family Tree, containing three songs where Guðlaugur is featured, “Síðasta Ég” and “Fuglar” (also known as “Seagull”, which was taken from KUKL’s The Eye).[citation needed]

Featuring and collaborations with other artists: in 1987 worked on Crowleymass, an album by Current 93, the band led by David Tibet (ex Psychic TV), with the collaboration of HÖH who at that time was in Nyarlathotep's Idiot Flute Players. It was a single edited by Maldoror in a limited edition of 2,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
In 1990 Guðlaugur played in Crusher of Bones, an album released by Reptilicus. Produced by HÖH and it was an example of darkwave/industrial of the early 1990s.
In 1994 worked with Neol Einsteiger on the album Heitur Vindur and by 1995 added guitars on the song “Eftirmáli og Ályktarnir” which appeared on Kjöttromman, an album released by EXEM, the band led by Einar Melax and poet Þorri Jóh. By 1998 played on Ull by Súkkat, a band formed by Hafþór and Gunnar Ólafsson.[citation needed]

In 2003 played with Graveslime on their album Roughness and Toughness, an album with thick sound layers with a melodic approach. Guðlaugur only played the song “American Sleeper”.
By late 2005 played 8 songs from Hús Datt, the debut album of Megasukk, a band created by Megas and Súkkat.[citation needed]

Solo career[edit]

After the KUKL/Elgar Sisters period, Guðlaugur has given several performances along other artists as well as with material of his own composition.[citation needed]

With a free style and oriented Frank Zappa and Duke Ellington has performed on the national TV and radio station accompanied by other musicians or just guitar solo concerts. In 2002 released an album called Alone with Guitar which contained arrangements to five pieces of Bach and it was followed on by another CD of limited edition containing some tracks from The Elgar Sisters as well as some of his live performances.[citation needed]

On October 23, 2004, he was called to compose a song to be performed by the belfry of Hallgrímskirkja (the Icelandic cathedral). The song was performed by the church organist during the Iceland Airwaves festival.
He was as well contributed to progressive music thanks to arrangements to pieces such as Suite No 3 and Toccata in Fugue in D minor, both by Bach, along other works by Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus, among others.[citation needed]

On December 9, 2005 he released Dense Time, his first solo album. It is a review of his music work, including new songs recorded for this album and featuring several Icelandic musicians like Björk, Megas, Agnar Wilhelm Agnarsson, Ragnhildur Gísladóttir, Guðmundur Jónsson (an operatic singer and Guðlaugur's stepfather), Magnús Guðmunsson, and others. It was produced by Guðlaugur with Arni Guðjónsson (leader of the band Leaves), and guitarist Guðmundur Pétursson.[citation needed]

By mid-October, he broke his left arm in an accident and several shows had to be cancelled. On December 16, Pronil Holdings is (a company in charge of his music royalties and scientific patents) is officially registered.
Dense Time is reissued by Bad Taste and goes to the streets for the Christmas season. On February 25 offered a concert performing Vivaldi and Bach and introduced some of his new compositions which would form part of his forthcoming album.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Guðlaugur Óttarsson is married to Valborg Elisabet Kristjánsdóttir and has two daughters: Ellen Svava (1973) and Hera Þöll Guðlaugsdóttir (1981).[citation needed]

Discography[edit]

Discography with Þeyr (1981–1983)[edit]

Albums:

Singles / EPs:

Featuring:

Video clips:

  • 1983 – Blood

Featuring on films:

Discography of KUKL (1983–1986)[edit]

Single:

Albums:

Featuring and collaborations:

Solo career[edit]

Collaborations[edit]

References[edit]

Related bibliography[edit]

  • Rokksaga Íslands, Gestur Guðmundsson. Forlagið (1990).
  • Björk – Colección Imágenes de Rock, N°82, Jordi Bianciotto. Editorial La Máscara (1997).
  • Alternative Rock : Third Ear – The Essential Listening Companion, Dave Thimpson. Backbeat Books (2000).
  • Lobster or Fame, Ólafur Jóhann Engilbertsson. Bad Taste (2000).

External links[edit]