Ívar Páll Jónsson & the Revolutionary Cellular Orchestra — Revolution In The Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter

Album: Revolution In The Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter

Artist: Ívar Páll Jónsson & the Revolutionary Cellular Orchestra

Label: Mother West

Release Date: July 15, 2014

Revolution 7-15

www.motherwest.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Normally, any music associated with Iceland tends to be a bit…well, chilly, at best. That’s no pun intended, but rather a statement of opinion that seems to be borne out repeatedly, whether in the context of Bjorn or the Sugarcubes, or in the downcast demeanour of the nation’s troubled troubadours that have followed of late. So it’s somewhat surprising to come upon this ambitious concept album by Iceland’s Revolutionary Cellular Orchestra and its array of guest vocalists (Liam McCormick , Hjalti Þorkelsson, Sigríður Thorlacius , Valdimar Guðmundsson), and find it to be somewhat sunny. A true theatrical production in every sense, the album takes a longwinded title — Revolution In The Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter (one, we might add, that make little sense) — and then weaves a series of intricate arrangements and soundscapes under its overall umbrella. Be forewarned — the plot never becomes readily apparent, but the treatment seems suitable for a Broadway spectacle, and the duelling vocals hint at some vivid drama in he process.

As for the music itself, suffice it to say it’s a tangle of progressive melodies that once might have found a fine fit with Bowie in his Ziggy days or Queen in their era of flash and glam. More recent precedents might include Radiohead or Sufjan Stevens. However, comparisons don’t do the album justice, because in truth, this Revolution… is so unique and imaginative, it really stands alone. The buoyant exuberance of “Don’t Miss the Boat” and the dramatic elocution expressed in “Love Weighs 200 Tons,” “No Plan B” and “Brynja’s Dream” are, despite their ambiguous headings, full of appropriate theatrical flair and compelling enough to ensure interest in lieu of a grasp on the storyline. Still, the best track of all rests with “Oh God,” an anthemic, climactic example of sheer pop profundity that takes the album to another plain entirely.

Word is that there will be an actual production of this opus debuting in Greenwich Village towards summer’s end. Those fortunate enough to attend will likely get greater insights into this musical’s makeup. In the meantime, this somewhat ubiquitous soundtrack is here to enjoy. Dig in.

 DOWNLOAD: “Love Weighs 200 Tons,” “Brynja’s Dream” “Oh God”

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