Amina Animamina

If this music wasn’t so bewitching, you’d think that some cigar-chomping Mr. Big thought up this band. "I know,” he’d proclaim, "let’s put together four pixie-cute girls and have them play strings and other odds and ends. The indie kids will eat it up!” Of course, the music provided by these sweet Icelandic fairies, who have done back-up work for Sigur Rós and the Album Leaf, runs more towards the ambient with all their toy-box experiments and scraped strings. "Fjarskauistan” sets the perfect tone as the satellite beeps lead into the drone of strings and, like a long close-up, the image becomes less and less blurry with each additional instrument, until, by the climax, the result is a shimmering whole. On the other hand, "Hennipode” skews more straightforward with its layered strings and harpsichord, but its short length does more harm than good. From the songs on this too-short EP, Amina’s bag of tricks may not last the length of an album, but in these bite-sized pieces, these smatterings of gauzy strings and off-kilter instrumentation are manna from heaven. (The Workers Institute)