The video Mercy (2005) presents an alt-country ode consisting of a single lyric — "Oh why do I keep on hurting you" — which Kjartansson, standing alone with a guitar, sings over and over in front of the camera like an actor perfecting his role. Now plaintive, now crass, now searching, now pleading, the line takes on a haunting quality not quite undercut by the tune’s tongue-in-cheek twang. The work introduced a recurring motif in the artist’s repertoire: the slick-haired singer, a persona Kjartansson has honed in real life as front man for the synth-heavy Reykjavík rock band Trabant, now on hiatus. The band’s performances — as seen on YouTube, anyway — have been blowout affairs, full of rock ’n’ roll swagger and screaming teenage fans. Mercy was a first step toward connecting this sassy streak with the artist’s maturing explorations of Icelandic identity.
Ray Ferrier is a divorced dockworker and less-than-perfect father. Soon after his ex-wife and her new husband drop of his teenage son and young daughter for a rare weekend visit, a strange and powerful lightning storm touches down.
Yuri Orlov is a globetrotting arms dealer and, through some of the deadliest war zones, he struggles to stay one step ahead of a relentless Interpol agent, his business rivals and even some of his customers who include many of the world's most notorious dictators.