In music, canon is the technique in which a single melody is overlaid with imitation melodies at different intervals. The original melody is the leader, the subsequent copies its followers. In the church, canonization is the declaration that a person who has died was a saint, upon which the person is included in the “canon,” or list of recognized saints.
Maybe sainthood is an overstatement, one that Biogen likely wouldn’t agree with anyway. But the fact remains that it has been six years since Iceland’s pioneer electronic artist passed away, and his music has since been released to a wider audience than ever during his lifetime.
Lots to be desired
Credit the internet. Credit an evolving acceptance of techno. Credit a certain Russian DJ with a bob cut and a palette for idiosyncratic electronic music. Nina Kraviz started Trip records in 2014 with a mixed bag called ‘The Deviant Octopus’. She continued to pursue full-length albums of Icelandic techno artists like Bjarki and Exos while maintaining a healthy crate-digging habit. In 2016 Nina released the label’s fifth compilation album, ‘When I Was 14’. On it, an untitled Biogen track appeared, his music’s first appearance on her label, and the beginning of a major move forward into Biogen’s past.
“The selection process was mostly Nina picking tracks and me nodding my head in agreement. She knows exactly what she is doing.”
“I met up with Nina in a coffee house in Reykjavík a few years ago and she told me her ideas concerning Biogen and her label,” says Jónas Guðmundsson, a close friend and collaborator of Biogen. Nina impressed Jónas with her intelligence and enthusiasm about Biogen’s music and the role it could play through her label—and Jónas knew she would pursue her project wholeheartedly.
Biogen continued to appear in Nina’s mixes and sets. On June 23, Trip Records released ‘Halogen Continues’, a full-length compilation of unreleased and self-released crate (and hard drive and DAT tape) dug tracks by Biogen, provided by Jónas Guðmundsson, curated by Nina.
“I just dumped the whole bunch on poor Nina,” Jónas says, referring to the library of Biogen’s sound files, collected by Jónas and Biogen’s friends and family. “The selection process was mostly Nina picking tracks and me nodding my head in agreement. She knows exactly what she is doing. She wouldn’t be where she is today if otherwise,” Jónas says.
“‘Halogen Continues’ exhibits a range of cuts that Nina says she thought “show his creative approach most brightly.”
‘Halogen Continues’ exhibits a range of cuts that Nina says she thought “show his creative approach most brightly.” The collection is as varied as his live sets once were, with some tracks pulsing like a bursting star and others as hollowing as the darkness that it turns into. Tracks like “Borealis” sputter out at a pace that would only be appreciated in the downstairs section of the club, and others, like “Lag 7,” float so space-high that you forget what gravity feels like.
In any case of the word, a canon is a foundation, and the purpose of a foundation is to support something greater, something beyond itself. On the final (and title) track of ‘Halogen Continues’, Nina and Biogen leave us gazing at an Earth receding from view, swallowed into a space of infinite future creations.
‘Halogen Continues’ is released through Trip Records. A further album of Biogen’s ambient and experimental works will be released on GALAXIID later this year.
Published in The Reykjavík Grapevine.