Nonstop from Iceland, the perfect soundtracks to your winter. Photo (CC-BY) James Cridland.

It’s easy to be bleak about new music releases, the vast quantities of new work spreading before you in their sameness like a blizzard – plenty of particles, but all a white wash. When feelings like that hit you – or the depressed mood that might strike during midwinter in the far reaches of the Northern Hemisphere – there’s a solution. You can warm yourself with good friends in intimate surroundings.

And that’s what Iceland’s Bedroom Community collective and label are all about. This group has literally assembled a group of close friends for “intimate” musical connections. Getting in on their releases feels accordingly like gathering with that circle, in beautiful, reflective, finely-crafted music that’s unafraid of drawing lines between electronic music, classical, and experimental traditions. And yes, that includes looking to acoustic instrumentation and concert music alongside digital and purely electronic media. The founders were originally Valgeir Sigurðsson, with Nico Muhly and Ben Frost, with a few additions since then.

December is the perfect time to catch up if you like what you here, as an exquisite new Yule mix is free with other records. Let’s listen to a few samples.

Have a Yule that’s cool. Sadly, no sweater is available. (Box set, please?)

This year, a new Yule compilation is an exclusive in December, complete with make-your-own gift CD kits. Yes, I’m a bit late for Christmas, but I’m ready to keep gift giving going. New Year’s. Orthodox Christmas. My birthday. All ahead in the next three weeks. Track listing:

00:00 Daníel Bjarnason – “Enn fagnar heimur” / Scanner Remix
04:50 Nico Muhly feat. Dawn Landes – “The Brown Girl” / Valgeir Sigurðsson Remix
10:57 Paul Corley – “Sidings”
16:38 Puzzle Muteson – “True Faith”
19:59 Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason – Theme From “Djúpið”
23:33 Nadia Sirota – “Twelve Days Of Christmas”
28:49 Sam Amidon – “The Sad Gnome” + “Prodigal Son 2007 Demo”
34:48 Ben Frost – “Bergþórugata 2006”
37:12 Nico Muhly – “Radio Bells”
41:28 Daníel Bjarnason – “Enn fagnar heimur”
43:48 Valgeir Sigurðsson – “Gleðilegt jóðl”

Yule is in the Air

From last year’s Yule mix, Sam Amidon with How Come That Blood (FM Belfast Remix) video, as featured on NME (PS, funny to run across Sam’s name, as I met Sam years ago in New York):

Another great sample is Daníel Bjarnason’s “Montauk in February Remix” off Spindrift:

But Yule aside, now’s as good a time as any to mention some wonderful recent Bedroom Community releases, each of which deserve our consideration as we look back over 2012.

There’s Nico Muhly’s “Drones”, the latest from this brilliant, boundary-pushing composer. Ignore the title: this is post-minimal virtuosity, sometimes rollicking in nods to the likes of Rzewski, sometimes static sculpture, sometimes rock-and-roll. It’s, vitally, never timid:

Paul Corley’s debut “Disquiet” is a masterpiece, sparse and unadorned without ever being austere, a chillingly-beautiful set of instrumental meditations:

Finally, “Architecture of Loss” by Valgeir Sigurðsson is an exquisite, often programmatic work in instrumental and digital processes. Built on a ballet, the sense of movement and gesture is intact even in its sparest moments.

Bedroom Community remains a label to track, so I’ll continue to do so. Enjoy: