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Boomkat Product Review:
Surely one of the most bombastic modern classical albums you're likely to hear all year, Daniel Bjarnason's Processions comes to us via a label that's no stranger to delivering within the genre: Bedroom Community has already introduced us to the talents of expert arranger/composer Nico Muhly, not to mention fellow avant-garde-ists Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurdsson. The music of Daniel Bjarnason immediately strikes you as an uncommonly technical and bold undertaking. So often album releases from this scene treat us to lovely, if occasionally syrupy fare, but here Bjarnason assaults you with the jagged percussion and hacksaw bowing of 'Sorrow Conquers Happiness'; the first movement of his three-part Bow To String piece. Here the Icelandic composer manages to be lyrical and accessible whilst presenting the listener with a showcase of his considerable compositional know-how, all culminating in the detangled plaintive melodies of 'Air To Breath', in which violins really do seem to dissolve into vapours via a series of weightless natural harmonics at the close. The other major composition here is Processions, also divided into three parts, but this time occupying an even grander scale. A full orchestra is channelled into Bjarnason's score, which at its most intense is truly dizzying in its scope and sense of operatic drama. After some extreme piano histrionics during 'Spindrift', 'Red-Handed' charges into head-spinningly elaborate levels of dissonance and dynamic changes. Closing piece 'Skelja' comes as something of a tranquil relief then, finishing the album with a sophisticated, unrelentingly beautiful harp piece. Excellent stuff.