Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson is an Icelandic singer songwriter. He has a beautiful soft soaring voice. He released his debut album Dýrð í dauðaþögn in Icelandic (it became the biggest-selling debit in Icelandic music history). A year later he reissued it in English (with translation help from John Grant who was living in Iceland) as In the Silence and finally (the version I have, as a 3 disc set with the Icelandic and English discs as well as a selection of bonus songs.
“On That Day” is a pretty, guitar based song (Ásgeir plays the main melody line and has guitar accompaniment (and backing vocals) from his childhood friend Julius Róbertsson.
For the final two songs, Ásgeir switches to piano. “Torrent” has gorgeous vocal harmonies. It’s interesting how much more deliberate this song feels–not quite staccato, but the piano chords don’t really ring out, letting each note stand on its own.
For this Tiny Desk, he stripped down the songs, getting to their core. They’re not flashy, they’re just lovely.
The final song he plays, “Higher” is the first song on the record (interestingly “On that Day” is the final song on the record). It has a very slow, delicate piano melody and is also soothing and beautiful.
And in a cool synchronicity at the end of the show Bob tells Ásgeir that he’s playing at the same piano that John Grant played on a few months earlier.
[READ: July 2, 2016] Sweaterweather
Back in 2003, Sara Varon published her first book called Sweaterweather. This collection includes all of the original 8 stories as well as a few more. Each story gets a brief introduction from Varon which makes me like her even more (she’s quite funny).
Most of the stories are short(2-3 p[ages) and most don’t seem to have a title. The contents page is actually thumbnails from each story.
When I first saw Varon’s style, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It is so innocent and childlike. And I have really grown to love it–especially when these sweet animals characters (they’re pretty much all animals) tackle some intense feelings.
In the first one turtle and rabbit go camping (with a surprise twist).
In the second, “The Dinner Guest” Sara says that she is the person and her dog Violet is the dog in the story. The person and the dog make a lovely dinner for a cat.
The third is an Alphabet comic. It’s meant to be a day in the life comic from 2001 in which every panel has a word starting with a different letter. There’ s a nice shout out to Giant Robot magazine.
“The Flight” is a wonderful fantasy about cats flying.
“The Pie Eating Contest” is a funny story because as she explains it, she wanted to include something about the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating content but also wanted to include a pawnshop. So she kind of wedged these two ideas together. It has a sweet ending too.
“The Pool” is a fun idea about a public pool for all the animals. The book includes the original admission coupon by Yunmee Kyong that is attached in the book as a little ticket.
“Bee Comic” is an illustration of her trip to a friend’s bee farm. It is instructional (lots of details about beekeeping) as well as cute.
“Paper Dolls” is indeed some paper dolls which you can cut out and play with (don’t cut them out of a library book).
“Dog and Robot” is actually the first part of Robot Dreams. It is one of the first stories that does not end happily. Although she ensures us it is an accidental betrayal. And it was rectified somewhat in the full book (which she completed 4 years later).
“Camping Comic.” Varon jokes that she does a lot of camping comics even though she doesn’t really camp. This story is cute with a raccoon spying on their camp site and really going to town on their marshmallows. But even pesky raccoons can feel guilt.
For “Boxing Comic,” she tells us that she began boxing in 2004. She even worked for a boxing tournament. She wanted to make sure that people knew the boxers were fiends so even though they hurt each other there were no hard feeling because it was supposed to be fun.
“Lion Comic” is one of my favorites. In this one a Lion is reading a book called How to Fit In in the African Grassland. So the lion tries all of these suggestions like wearing a zebra sweater, driving a car with the cheetahs. The last panel is a very funny punchline.
“Book Tribute” is a kind of review of a book called Deep Freeze about a photographer who traveled to the South Pole in the 1950s. She heard about it on the Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC.
“Five Day Diary” is meant to document what happens every day in a week in May 2012. She says it was an especially busy week for her. A departmental cookie bake-off, a fiction writing class, a birthday party, an amazing picture of John (Varon’s style is cartoony that I had no idea she could draw so realistically and beautifully), ad then she drew this comic.
“Mexico City” shows what the subways are like in Mexico City, with vendors selling all kinds of things on every car: food, music, lollipops, and it only costs about 25 cents to ride.
“Dinosaur Comic” is a an explanation of why the dinosaurs look so scary and angry–it’s too hot!
“The Next Chapter” is a series of interviews with fellow work-from-home folks. Sara was quitting her day job to work on illustration full-time.
She interviews Red Fox (an animator) [Eun-ha Paek], Coyote (a graphic novelist) [Danica Novgorodoff] Water Buffalo (a freelance print designer) [Wayne Kronenfeld] and Bear (an oil painter) [Charlie Yoder] all of whom do different things to pass their days without formal structure.
I’ve enjoyed all of Sara Varon’s books, but after reading this I have a much greater appreciation for what she does and how she does it. Thanks to First Second for publishing this. #10yearsof01
For ease of searching, I include: Asgeir, Dyrd i daudapogn, Julius Robertsson.