Asgeir is releasing his fourth album, Time On My Hands, after sharing the assured and relaxed single "Borderland," where subtle instrumental flourishes colour vibrant lyricism and elevated vocals.
As one of Iceland’s most successful exports, singer-songwriter Ásgeir has spent the time between his record-breaking debut (now celebrating its 10th anniversary) and today pushing the boundaries of his textured, thoughtful brand of folk-pop.
Time On My Hands is his latest. Ásgeir has shared the retrospective new single "Like I Am," on which shuffling jazz drums crack through the layered production beneath them. Distant guitar and synth embellishments add emotional emphasis and, amidst it all, his singular, pure voice weaves a narrative that recalls the sparse and dark roads of his Icelandic hometown. Time On My Hands sees Ásgeir in a state of self-reflection and experimentation, having spent much of the last few years in his home and in the studio deeply engrossed in writing, recording, translating and producing. On this album he’s entered new realms of composition, sensitively layering acoustics with electronics and brass.
As with some of his previous work, most notably 2017’s Afterglow and 2020’s Bury The Moon, Ásgeir plays with euphoric and choral elements of electronic pop music while keeping a tight grasp on the introspective, vocal-lead style of the acoustic album that made him famous. It’s clear from the beginning that the collection is built around visuals of glacial scenery as Ásgeir soars above a frosty terrain of enchanting melodic soundscapes with cinematic lucidity. The rolling landscapes aesthetic of the record was inspired by Ásgeir's own relationship with music over the last two years, consuming mostly while he was running outdoors, or while on long drives. He says that “some of the albums or music that stand out from that time were Caribou’s album Suddenly, Caroline Polichek's Pang, Dijon, Altopalo, Big Thief, Michael Kiwanuka, Sault, Ethan Gruska, Blake Mills and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. This music probably has something to do with how the record came out, combined with earlier influences.”
The extended time that Ásgeir had to work on the material gave him space to venture into different synth sounds, he tells us, “There’s a synth repair guy that works at the studio and there’s a lot of vintage synthesizers that come through there. We bought an old Memory moog off him while recording the album and I used it on many of the songs. I wrote 'Vibrating Walls' on a Korg PS-3100. Korg Delta has always been one of my favorite synths and it was used on a few tracks. I use my voice as the bass sound in 'Golden Hour,' I got the idea after listening to "Rank and File" by Moses Sumney.”
Time On My Hands was recorded in Studio Hljóðrit where Ásgeir has always recorded, working closely with producer Guðmundur Kristinn Jónsson, he also recorded some of it at home. Ásgeir plays the bulk of the instruments himself but also invited the likes of drummers Nils Törnqvist and Kristinn Snær Agnarson, and the brass trio Samúel Jón Samúelsson, Kjartan Hákonarson and Óskar Guðjónssonas, as well as Pétur Bento who adds the occasional percussion or guitar. The whole album asks us to allow ourselves to glide over borders, both the physical, the ones we put up ourselves, and those between reality and imagination. It’s about freedom, the desire for adventure, and taking flight to escape isolation, as well as appreciating the natural wonders that surround us every day.