There’s little about Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson’s stage presence to indicate that he’s a superstar in Iceland.
Hunch shouldered and bow headed, he hides behind a womp-womp keyboard and the four-piece Ásgeir Trausti Band for the duration of the set. Even so, there are teasers tonight as to why Dyrd í dauðathogn smashed records to become Iceland’s fastest and biggest selling debut album by a homegrown artist.
Hoping to replicate this success overseas, he’s now on the cusp of releasing an English-language version of his debut, with lyrics translated by early supporter John Grant. In anticipation of this, his set switches between languages almost as easily as it does between folktronica, Scandipop and sub-prog.
These styles are united by his tremulously melancholy voice, which is pitched between James Blake and Antony Hegarty. On melodic folk tracks such as ‘On That Day’ and ‘Going Home’, which best capture the mood of his troubadour-ish output, he blurs soothingly into the work of support act Farao.
The pseudonym of London-based, Norwegian guitarist Kari Jahnsen, her close harmonies with the keyboardist are reminiscent of the gentle country-folk of First Aid Kit. Where her set demonstrates limited variety, however, Ásgeir’s wistful acoustica is frequently reworked with keyboard and drum machine.
The high points of this are arguably left until the closing two numbers, with the slightly ludicrous prog keyboards on lead single ‘King And Cross’ adding a rock element that’s furthered on breakout hit ‘Torrent’.
These tracks signpost Ásgeir’s potential for critical and commercial crossover success in overseas markets, even if he never quite becomes the household name he is in Iceland.
Gig date: December 9