Agent Fresco, by and large one of the best bands to come out of Iceland… The mechanics and rhythmic patterns are stuttering and unpredictable — yet seamlessly stitched together into a stunning composition: a less confrontational, more internal At The Drive In. (Halley Bondy, MTV)
AGENT FRESCO is an Icelandic band of startling originality known for its intensely dramatic performances of music combining the pop, alternative, art and math-rock genres.
At the heart of their sound is an intensity that flows through soaring rhapsodic melodies, free-floating lyrics, jazz-inflected harmonies, sideways-pulling polyrhythms and spasmodic eruptions of aggressive guitar, supported on drums by a rhythmic ribcage varying in style from spiffy to muscular. This is emotion-soaked music projected with a stylistic confidence that earned this band the highest rating (KKKKK) from Kerrang! Magazine for their performances at Iceland Airwaves. Oozing musicianship from every pore, this band is impressive at any scale: electric or unplugged, on the stage or in the studio.
While their 2008 EP, Lightbulb Universe, won them early acclaim — a Kraumur Music Award and Best New Artist designation at the 2009 Icelandic Music Awards — it is their ambitious concept album A Long Time Listening, released nationally by Record Records at the end of 2010 and self-released in Europe and distributed by Rough Trade (DE) in 2012, that offers a glimpse of their true potential.
The 17 tracks of this elaborately structured album trace the emotional echo of the passing of Örn Jóns Petersen, father of vocalist Arnór Dan Arnarson, whose lyrics tell this tale of loss in images both imaginatively raw and resonant with mythical allusion. Uniquely personal, but operatic in intensity, and wildly eclectic in music style, the album is balanced with brilliant symmetry around the middle track, Yellow Nights, a song that repeats itself, backwards, in its second half. The large-scale architectural structure and linked musical motifs of this album will provide longtime listening interest for fans whose first came to the band for the breathless stammer and heart-laid-bare vulnerability of the band’s hot emotional appeal.
Recognized by Morgunblaðið, the Icelandic national newspaper of record, as “an amazing album by the best rock band in the country today,” it was immediately short-listed for Best Album of the Year by Icelandic music critics of both national newspapers, then climbed to #1 on the charts of the gogoyoko music download site.
Two European tours, in 2011 & 2012, have brought the band’s music to the attention of the continent’s music fans and featured appearances at Roskilde (DK), Eurosonic (NL), and Euroblast (DE) festivals, as well as regular sold-out performances at Reykjavík’s own iconic music festival, Iceland Airwaves. The strength of their performances at these and other festivals has won praise from international media such as MTV (US), Kerrang! (UK), Rolling Stone (US), Metal Hammer (DE), Eclipsed, (DE) Rockpalast TV (DE) and KEXP Radio (Seattle).
But what the critics now proclaim audiences have known ever since Eyes of a Cloud Catcher first came out on Icelandic radio three years ago, in advance of its official release. Without record sales to tell them they had a runaway hit on their hands, the band played this song at their first Iceland Airwaves gig in 2008, stopping dead in their tracks at the chorus to stare out in disbelief at the sea of swaying hands: the hall was singing it back at them, a cappella. That tribute of affection, now a ritual at every performance, caused Kerrang! to blog:
Seriously, this band is so impressive and the way the entire room sings along to their stunning Eyes Of A Cloud Catcher is a moment that’ll live long in the memory of all here. (Paul Brannigan, Kerrang blog, Airwaves 2010)
Agent Fresco are currently working on their second full-length album, to be released in late 2013.
Arnór Dan Arnarson – Vocals
Þórarinn Guðnason – Guitar / Piano
Vignir Rafn Hilmarsson – Electric Upright Bass / Bass / Synth
Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson – Drums