Jónsi : Shiver Review
Jónsi is an LA-based Icelandic musician who, after a decade since his debut album Go was released, is releasing his net boundary-pushing album called Shiver. Co-produced by A. G. Cook (PC Music, Charlie XCX), the album features tracks with Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and pop icon Robyn and was recorded in Berlin, Reykjavik, London, and Helsinki. When Jónsi was traveling through London, he met up with iconoclastic producer A.G. Cook, who he admired for his boundary-breaking work with the PC music collective. They soon realized they would be perfect collaborators. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Jónsi says. “I get tired of everything really easily. I always want things to be fun and exciting and fresh and doing another album…I just wanted to have a different approach.”
“Exhale” opens with a quiet piano-playing simple chords. Jónsi’s singing floats in with plenty of atmospheric reverb and delay. The synths enter, and Jónsi’s voice is processed to match the synth colors. The track builds and acts as an introduction to the whole project. Indeed, not a song to listen to in the car, as much of the quiet moments will be inaudible, but besides that, an excellent start to the project.
“Cannibal” (with Elizabeth Fraser) is a vital moment in the project. The two blend together, and the production is supportive. Fraser’s singing is a welcomed color change as the mellow atmosphere continues. The song builds to a climax with synths and drums, as the two vocalists climb in their vocal range. “Cannibal” is a beautiful song and collaboration.
Shiver contains the genre-defying music that searches the depths of the human experience and our connection to the natural world that Jónsi has made his career on. Cook’s production adds a synthetic, sometimes aggressive, and pushing to the edge of experimentalism. Their collaboration is surprising, but Shiver is a beautiful album with yin and yang and pushes Jónsi’s ethereal vocal style into startling new places.
June 24, 2020