Gyða Valtýsdóttir (aka Gyda) has announced Ox, her much anticipated fourth album, out December 3rd. The first visual to accompany this album is for the track “Cute Kittens Lick Cream.” Gyda explains: “It has always felt intriguing & in a way, a goal worth striving for, to be able to write such simple music that still reaches emotional depths. ‘Cute Kittens Lick Cream’ was written during a period where I set myself the task to write one piece of music a day. It came out just like that, every take the first thing I improvised. Only at the very final stage of mixing the album, I added the clarinet & flute parts. Even if the piece sprang forth effortlessly in its simplicity, I worked meticulously on the “texture” of it, the tight weaving of the sounds so its fabric would both warm you, as well as transport you out of this realm.
I have had the idea to make a beautiful cat video to my music for a long time. Only now did the idea line up with my artistic integrity & so it came to existence.”
Traversing between a vast spaciousness and the tender intimacy of our inner world, the nine genre-fluid songs of Ox were begun in the solitary depths of Brooklyn winter, and brought to completion with the aid of frequent collaborator Úlfur Hansson in the bright Icelandic summer. By turns both visceral & wildly sublime, Ox celebrates the embodiment of both the darkness and the light that exists within us. The title comes from the opening song, ‘Alphabet,’ as most alphabets begin with the letter aleph, originating from the egyptian hieroglyph which depicts an ox ́s head. Through soaring cello and Gyða’s celestial vocals, the listener is led to look for meaning in the worlds that exist both within us and around us, “Alphabet is about reading between the lines” Gyða explains “connecting the dots of the sensory waves that make our realities.”
Throughout the winter, Gyða found herself retreating to the studio as a way to maintain her sanity in the lockdown, and this urgency lends a hypnotic, otherworldly quality to the music. Throughout the lush, expansive instrumentation of the songs there is a sense of intuitive, heart- led knowledge, prioritising what is felt over what is rationally known. This sense of mystic intuition illuminates the album, without ever taking itself too seriously.
A founding member of the experimental and groundbreaking band Múm as a teenager, Gyða later studied classical cello and improvisation in Iceland, Russia and Switzerland. She has worked with a varied group of artists across genres, performed at concerts around the world and composed music for films. In 2019, Gyða won the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize for her deeply personal and organic performance, fragile, subtle, yet powerful and temperamental. On Ox, Gyða presents the vast versatility of her work, demonstrating the ways in which song- making is a form of alchemy, a transformative process of taking something from the darkness and bringing it into light, and the result is an album of otherworldly spaciousness and urgent, fragile intimacy all at once