Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson

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Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson
Born 1954 (age 63–64)
Origin Iceland
Occupation(s) Musician
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) (1969) was his first group. It was a trio formed by Óttarsson (electric and acoustic guitars), Haraldur Johannessen (acoustic guitar) and Gunnar Magnússon (acoustic bass). Steinblóm played punk versions of artists such as Bob Dylan and Donovan, Óttarsson originals and folk songs. At that time, he was experimenting with homemade electro-acoustic guitars and amplifiers. Steinblóm played gigs in Reykjavík and the suburbs.
The end of the band came when he moved from Reykjavík to Laugarvatn in order to assist high school.[citation needed]

Lótus was created while he was at Laugarvatn high school in 1972. In 1974 and 1975 and played all over Iceland in 1974 when the country celebrated its 1,100th anniversary. Lótus was basically a rock band whose members were Óttarsson, Guðjón Sigurbjörnsson, both on electric guitars, Böðvar Helgi Sigurðsson (electric bass), Guðmann Þorvaldsson (drums) and Sigurður Ingi Pálsson (vocals). Lotus' music was in the jazz-rock style of Dave Brubeck and Óttarsson originals, including arrangements to Mozart and Beethoven in a rock style. Lótus did not release any record, but they did some two-track recordings believed to be lost. Lótus disbanded in 1975 when Óttarsson returned to Reykjavík to study at the Polytechnic Division of the University of Iceland.[citation needed]

He joined Sextettinn (Sextet) (1977) when he was at University. He joined Sveinbjörn Baldvinsson (guitarist), Gunnar Hrafnsson (bass), Stefán Stefánsson (saxophone), Guðjón Hilmarsson (drums), and Kristín Jóhannsdóttir (vocals). The music of Sextettinn was original themes performed in several different styles from country-rock and pop-rock to pop-jazz. Sextettinn gigged throughout Iceland and had a presentation at the local TV station. Óttarsson stayed for a short time, as his studies were taking most of his time. The remaining members of the group continued under a different name: Ljósin í Bænum, (The Lights of the City) and released an album still popular in Iceland.

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

Þeyr[edit]

In January 1981 Óttarsson joined Þorsteinn Magnússon on guitar, Hilmar Örn Agnarsson (electric bass), Magnús Guðmundsson (lead vocals) and Sigtryggur Baldursson, (drums/percussion).[citation needed]

Þeyr's first concert took place on January 28 at the Hótel Saga. Þeyr worked from a deep philosophical and physical 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]

At that time, Óttarsson 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", the band's first work sung in English. By autumn they came up with Iður til Fóta, a four-track EP. Its cassette version featured "Brennu-Njálssaga", the soundtrack to the eponymous film by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson about Njál's saga.
In late 1981 Þeyr released an album titled Mjötviður Mær, which contained "Iss", "Þeir" and "2999" representing their attempts to create a futuristic pop style using voice distortions and additional beats and keyboards. On this record "Úlfur" stands out for embodying an angry vocal style, turning it into one of the most important, with "Mjötviður", an instrumental and "Rúdolf", an anti-fascist 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. The most notable song of this record was "Killer Boogie" since it is considered as an attempt to achieve an international position. In 1982 the group performed on a concert in Reykjavík that was recorded and went out as a live concert release named Rokk í Reykjavík (Rock in Reykjavík). This concert gathered some of the important Icelandic bands including Purrkur Pillnikk and Tappi Tíkarrass. Þeyr appeared in this compilation with two songs: "Killer Boogie" and "Rúdolf". That year the group released an EP titled The Fourth Reich containing a stronger percussion and rhythmic efforts than their previous works, songs that stand out in this respect were "Zen" and "Blood", with a deeper rock-style music.[citation needed]

In 1982, Jaz Coleman, the singer of Killing Joke, had moved to Iceland because he feared that the end of the world was looming. He collaborated with several music bands, but above all with Þeyr, and created a group originally called Iceland, but subsequently renamed Niceland. Although this group was formed by Coleman and Þeyr’s musicians, it did not include Þorsteinn Magnússon, the other guitarist. After rehearsing, Niceland was ready to record 5 songs in 1983, but two 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 single: "Lunaire" and by June the band broke up.[citation needed]

In 2001, thanks to the support of family 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 was named Mjötviður til Fóta. It is the only available record of Þeyr. The other records were never reissued, because the masters are believed to be lost.[citation needed]

KUKL and The Elgar Sisters[edit]

Following Þeyr, Óttarsson and Sigtryggur joined Einar Örn Benediktsson, the vocalist of Purrkur Pillnikk, Einar Arnaldur Melax keyboardist from Medúsa, Björk Guðmundsdóttir, vocalist of Tappi Tíkarrass and bassist Birgir Mogensen from Spilafífl when Ásmundur Jónsson from Gramm (then Iceland's most important record company) wanted to create a band with cutting-edge artists 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 KUKL's style was a type of dark gothic rock in the style of Killing Joke and innovative references to The Fall's post-punk, it was later defined by Björk as "existential jazz-punk-hardcore". KUKL’s music had rich atonal compositions, as Óttarsson 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 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 released 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. Other songs include "The Spire" that stands out with central phrases overlapped to background lines and the song "Anna", maker of a threatening environment.[citation needed]

On September 14, 1984, KUKL performed in Paris, where 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. It was released through Crass Records. This work is far more complex and all wind instruments were replaced by keyboards and bells. Songs like "A Mutual Thrill" are a mélange of pop and experimental post-indie music.[citation needed]

Þór Eldon Jónsson, the guitarist of Medúsa had been dating Björk when she became pregnant, so KUKL became an exhausting task. Einar Örn was studying in London and when he came back to Iceland in summer 1986 decided that KUKL was over and a new project should be set up in order to deal with the group’s expenditures. The Sugarcubes band soon followed, ending KUKL. Óttarsson and Birgir Mogensen were the only musicians who did not continue on the new project.[2]

Óttarsson and Björk created The Elgar Sisters, which coexisted with KUKL, although it lasted longer. This group released no albums, but did record 11 songs from 1984 to 1986. Óttarsson (electric and acoustic guitarist) and composed most of the songs. Björk (vocals), composed three songs (two with Óttarsson). The Elgar Sisters could be seen as their duo project. The other musicians were Birgir Mogensen (electric bass), Einar Melax (keyboards), Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (HÖH) (keyboards and synthetic drums), Sigtryggur Baldursson (drums/percussion and Þorsteinn Magnússon (electric guitar).
A few songs recorded by the Elgar Sisters came to light via Björks’s solo career and on Óttarsson's solo album released in 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 from 1990-1991 was established after the release of Hættuleg hljómsveit & glæpakvendið Stella, an album by Megas in 1990. The band did many concerts in southwestern Iceland, in the outskirts of Reykjavík and later in rural areas of Northern Iceland. By this period Björk was no longer a member. Hættuleg Hljómsveit never released a 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 Óttarsson. In fact, the name stemmed from the initials corresponding to the middle name of each member. Their first gig was approximately in 1992. MÖK Trio did not play regularly and they never released an album. Their last presentation was in August 2001 at Galdrahátíðin á Ströndum, Reykjavík.[citation needed]

INRI was a project of Magnús Jensson. Óttarsson 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]

Psychic TV[edit]

In 1984 Óttarsson added guitars on Psychic TV’s album Those Who Do Not. This work was produced by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Óttarsson and used one of his inventions, the P-Orridgemeter. It was a device that could be programmed with any given frequency and was activated 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 physically present. For instance, a vocalist could activate a bell sound. This could be recorded as an identical pattern and then the voice was erased.
In 1987 these tracks were reissued with a different name, Live in Reykjavik, an album that was released by Temple Records, the record label owned by Genesis P-Orridge.

Megas[edit]

Óttarsson contributed to multiple 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 he appeared again on Höfuðlausnir, which featured Björk and Rose McDowell as backing vocalists.
In 1990 Óttarsson added guitars on Hættuleg Hljómsveit & Glæpakvendið Stella, an album featuring The Sugarcubes. In 1992 appeared on Þrír Blóðdropar, an album with the addition of Bubbi Morthens, Móeiður Júníusdóttir, and drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson. Drög að Upprisu followed in 1994.[7]

In 2002, Óttarsson's contributions were featured on the compilation Megas 1972-2002. The same year he joined Megas playing the song "Edge and Over" for Fálkar, the soundtrack to Friðriksson’s film Falcons.[citation needed]

Bubbi Morthens[edit]

In 1989 Óttarsson worked with singer Bubbi Morthens for the 10 track album Nóttin Langa. Part of this work is featured on Bubbi’s Sögur 1980-1990, a 1999 compilation.[citation needed]

Björk[edit]

In August 1993 Björk released Venus as a Boy featuring an Elgar Sisters song, "Stígðu Mig" on the second CD. In November Big Time Sensuality went out featuring other Elgar songs, "Síðasta Ég" and "Glora". On November 4, 2002 Björk released a CD box titled Family Tree, containing three songs featuring Óttarsson, "Síðasta Ég" and "Fuglar" (also known as "Seagull", which was taken from KUKL’s The Eye).[citation needed]

Other artists[edit]

In 1987 he 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 Óttarsson played on Crusher of Bones, an album released by Reptilicus. Produced by HÖH, it was an example of darkwave/industrial of the early 1990s.

In 1994 he 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. In 1998 he played on Ull by Súkkat, a band formed by Hafþór and Gunnar Ólafsson.[citation needed]

In 2003 Óttarsson played with Graveslime on their album Roughness and Toughness. He played on the song "American Sleeper".

In late 2005 he played on eight songs on 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 performed with other artists as well as his own compositions.[citation needed]

With a free style and influences from Frank Zappa and Duke Ellington he performed on national TV and radio stations accompanied by other musicians or just solo concerts. In 2002 he released an album called Alone with Guitar that contained arrangements to five pieces of Bach. It was followed by another CD containing tracks from The Elgar Sisters and some of his live performances.[citation needed]

On October 23, 2004, he was asked 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 contributed to progressive music with arrangements of pieces such as Suite No 3 and Toccata and Fugue in D minor, by Bach, among works by jazz artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus,.[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 and featuring Icelandic musicians including Björk, Megas, Agnar Wilhelm Agnarsson, Ragnhildur Gísladóttir, Guðmundur Jónsson (an operatic singer and Óttarsson's stepfather), Guðmunsson, and others. It was produced by Óttarsson with Arni Guðjónsson (leader of the band Leaves), and guitarist Guðmundur Pétursson.[citation needed]

In mid-October,[when?] he broke his left arm in an accident and several shows had to be canceled. On December 16, Pronil Holdings is (a company in charge of his music royalties and scientific patents) was officially registered.

Dense Time was reissued by Bad Taste and goes to the streets for the Christmas season.[when?] On February 25 he offered a concert performing Vivaldi and Bach and introduced new compositions to appear on his forthcoming album.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson has two daughters: Ellen Svava Guðlaugsdóttir (1973) and Hera Þöll Guðlaugsdóttir (1981), along with 8 grandchildren.

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]

  1. ^ Tómasson Zoëga (2004). A concise dictionary of Old Icelandic. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-8659-4. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-02. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  3. ^ "Big Time Sensuality UK 12inch". Archived from the original on 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  4. ^ "Venus As A Boy UK CD2". Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  5. ^ "Family Tree UK Box Set". Archived from the original on 2010-12-24. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  6. ^ "Dense Time » Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson". www.icelandicmusic.com.
  7. ^ "Tónlist.is". www.tonlist.is. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27.

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]