There’s, to employ a cliche, something in the water in Iceland. It’s a stunning, beautiful island, characterised by geysers, volcanism, the Northern Lights and other natural phenomena that’ll make you wonder why you spend everyday choking through the smog of a city like London or New York or Berlin. Musically speaking, it has for a long time been ranked as a mythical artistic hub – home to Björk, obviously.
Three piece trip-hop and pop group Vök – which doesn’t really have an English translation – come from Iceland, too, and you can hear it in their music. It’s atmospheric, light, flowing. Listening to their 2017 debut album Figure is like floating on a comfortable smoke cloud while lightning storms operate in the far distance, almost out of sight. When I went to see them play in London venue The Lexington earlier this year, they had a commanding stage presence that deserves to extend further than the capacity of that venue, and no doubt it will.Today Vök release their first song since that album – a track called “Autopilot” (listen above). Ostensibly it is about “addiction and being high on life. It’s quite personal,” says lead singer Margrét Rán Magnúsdóttir, speaking down the phone from her studio in Hafnarfjörður. Here in London it’s somewhere around 30 degrees, the kind of temperature where the pavements start to crack and sweat collects in the air conditioning systems. It seems Iceland is one of the few places in the world that isn’t burning up, as temperatures there are around 10 degrees at the moment with lots of rain. Magnúsdóttir wishes she was in London, where she’ll return this month to work on the band’s second album.As pop songs about negative things go, “Autopilot” has a danceable foundation. In fact it’s easily imagined as the backdrop to one of those scenes in a TV show where something terrible happens, probably at a party, and one of the main character’s stands at the edge of the room surveying everything, a tear rolling down their cheek. And then the credits roll. Picking things up from the more downbeat tone of their debut, there’s a groove to “Autopilot”. “It’s a really personal lyric but in the same way it’s quite a positive song,” explains Magnúsdóttir. The group sing in English and across the lyrics are references to being “fucked up”, “hanging”, “loving the high-life”.The song sets Vök up for the next few months, where they’ll be touring America for the first time. Later in the year they hope to go to Bali, where they’ll also work on their upcoming record. For now though: “Autopilot”. Pour it into your ears.You can find Ryan on Twitter.