Sometimes it comes down to chance. You form a band, you practice hard, and you hustle to get into a position to record a couple of albums. Since you're not that well known, your touring is infrequent and modest. One day, after a concert in a foreign city, you are moved to spontaneously sing in public, it is filmed, and everything changes.
As you might imagine, the video that catapulted Árstíðir's to internet fame is truly special. In 2013, Árstíðir played a gig in Wuppertal, Germany. Afterwards, they went to the adjacent station. Built in the early twentieth century, the station has a high, domed roof. Struck by the acoustics, Árstíðir broke into a haunting ancient Icelandic hymn.
Written in 1208 by viking Kolbeinn Tumason, Heyr himna smiður was given a music arrangement by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson in the 1970s. Sigurbjörnsson is one of Iceland's most esteemed composers, and his starkly beautiful music setting is sympathetic to the age of the ancient text. So when Árstíðir sang Heyr himna smiður (Hear, smith of heavens) acapella under the church-like roof of the Prussian railway station, time stood still as the thirteenth century words resonated through the station hall.
Speaking about the video of their impromptu song, Árstíðir said, "Our friend Linda Iliste spontaneously recorded this on her camera, and we’re very happy she did!" Posted on YouTube, the video went viral. It has nearly 8 million views whereas the bands next most popular video has less than 350 thousand. While not one of Árstíðir most watched tracks, the following video, a live cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair, is a real treat for international audiences. It is a hidden gem.
Árstíðir is an independent Icelandic band, with their own label Nivalis and a distribution agreement with the German label Beste Unterhaltung. Árstíðir music is generally described as indie folk influenced by classical and traditional Icelandic music. As is clear from the above videos, Árstíðir is noted for the harmonious singing of the group. All of the members contribute vocals.
The band released their first album, the eponymous Árstíðir (Seasons) in 2009. Their latest album is Blik (Look), 2022. If you would like to see more from this talented group, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them on Facebook. You can also visit their official website for more information.