Song of the Day: Úlfur Eldjárn – Hands Up in the Air

photo by Matthew B. Thompson

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unrealeased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Hands Up in the Air” by Úlfur Eldjárn, from the forthcoming self-released album, The Aristókrasía Project, due this Spring.

Úlfur Eldjárn – Hands Up in the Air (MP3)
Ask anyone – space exploration takes time. Unfathomable hours of preparation precede any blastoff, and months of travel take us only one-way to touchdown on the nearest planets. We should consider ourselves lucky, then, that we have waited just over a year for the liftoff of The Aristókrasía Project, the forthcoming album by Icelandic composer and performer Úlfur Eldjárn. It was fall of 2015 when we premiered the inaugural spacewalk that is “Poyekhali!”, the project’s first single, named for the exhilarating slogan (“Let’s go” in Russian) popularized by pioneering Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin. Since that first battle cry, Eldjárn has plumbed the inner-spatial depths of “The Sea Within”, composing an original soundtrack for the 2016 Icelandic documentary film InnSæi, before asking us again to put ourselves out there. “Hands Up in the Air” is the latest from The Aristókrasía Project, a gradually propulsive, utopic track filled with Eldjárn’s signature synths and vocoder vocals. As the melody builds from a glimmering orbital drift to a rocketing trans-galactic thrust, you realize the song is a celebration of the future we dreamed of years ago, warped to our present day.

And if the world of the future were truly today, you might have been able to transport yourself to Helsinki, where tonight Úlfur Eldjárn is performing, with Samuli Kosminen and the Härö String Quartet, the entire new album as a live score to the film First Orbit, a space documentary by Christopher Riley, filmed from the International Space Station as a homage to Yuri Gagarin’s first orbit around Earth. Alas, the modern world lacks teleporters, so you’ll need to wait until March for The Aristókrasía Project‘s release. If there is any other activity between now and then, though, you’ll find it on Úlfur Eldjárn’s website and Facebook page. Until launch time, check out our previous Song of the Day post for “Poyekhali!” (here), and watch the recently released video of the same song accompanying footage from First Orbit below.

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