Icelandic cellist, singer, and composer Gyda Valtysdottir, a founder of the band múm and 2019 winner of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize, releases Epicycle II on her label DiaMond in collaboration with Sono Luminus on August 28, 2020.
Epicycle II, which was produced by Gyda and mixed with Jónsi, features music written for her, and/or in collaboration with her, by eight of Iceland’s most compelling composers – Ólöf Arnalds, Daníel Bjarnason, Úlfur Hansson, Jónsi, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Kjartan Sveinsson, Skúli Sverrisson and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir. The album is a sequel to her highly acclaimed first solo album from 2017, Epicycle, on which Gyda created personal renditions of written music spanning over 2000 years. An epicycle refers to the geometric model of the solar system by the Ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer Ptolemy, in which a smaller circle’s center moves around the circumference of a larger circle.
On Epicycle II, Gyda stretches the boundaries of genre even further, selecting composers who all have created their own unique sonic environments. The outcome is an expansive and colorful landscape, varied but connected in profound unity through Gyda’s highly personal touch.
A founding member of the experimental and groundbreaking band múm as a teenager in the late 1990s, Gyda later studied classical cello and improvisation in Reykjavik, St. Petersburg, and Basel. Known for her deeply personal and organic performances, she has worked with a varied group of artists across genres, performed concerts around the world, and composed music for films. She earned a double master’s degree from the Hochschule für Musik in Basel where her main teachers were cellist and composer Thomas Demenga and violist, composer, and improviser Walter Fähndrich.
Of the new album, Gyda says, “When the idea of Epicycle II came to me, it felt like it already existed. On the first Epicycle, I interpreted music by composers from the past. This time I wanted to collaborate with contemporary composers and musicians who have each created their own, unique musical language that doesn’t fall easily into any existing category. It became clear to me that I didn’t have to look far to find exquisite musicians all around me and soon I had a list of people who I greatly admire – people who had all shaped me in some way as a musician.
I also happened to know all of them since I started making music in my teens. Our world is interconnected and I wouldn’t be who I am without my relation to others, including the people that contributed to this record. This group of people is really a musical galaxy, where the connections are endless: From Kjartan producing Ólöf’s first record, which Daníel made some string arrangements for, to Úlfur touring as a bass player for Jónsi’s solo tour and María’s long collaboration with Jónsi and Kjartan … or from Daníel conducting Anna’s compositions, as well as joining Sigur Rós for their orchestra concerts, to Kjartan and Skúli soon releasing a duo album, and much more.”