Hildur Guðnadóttir: Leyfðu Ljósinu (CD, Touch, May 2012)

Wow. Spell-binding. I know Guðnadóttir from Mount A, a fine collection of cello-centric drone-oriented modern classical pieces. This is on a whole other level. It is a live recording (with "no post-tampering", according to a somewhat earnest sleeve note which is, in this case, entirely excused by the power of the music) with the composer on cello, vocals, and electronics. A 4-minute Prelude, with just the strings, establishes a sense of mood and place. The title track (which translates as Allow The Light) fills the remaining 35 minutes. It introduces a floating aethereal vocal which makes me catch my breath slightly every time I hear it. I don't know if there are Icelandic words in there, or if it is just phonetic, but as these fragile elements are layered up they achieve a devotional intensity comparable to the likes of Henryk Górecki. Later, the vocals recede, and the cello playing becomes more urgent, its insistent repetition accompanied by a bassy rumbling. This is music that demands my attention, and leaves me feeling subtly renewed.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Home Listening / Modern Classical / Ambient.