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Album Reviews : Solstafir – Berdreyminn

By on March 30, 2017

Originally made up of three friends from Iceland, Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, Halldór Einarsson and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason, Solstifar’s music is as panoramic and as fiercely undulating as their native landscape. Typically Icelandic in nature, Solstifar‘s music is innately hard to define. The trio, having formed in 1995, have taken their time to develop their unique, distinctive sound and their discography contains seemingly endless, aural interpretations of the sparse vistas and evolving geology of Eylenda. They have continued the progression towards excellence with the glacial onslaught of Kold (2009) being a fine example of the relationship between sound and environment but with the soon to be released Berdreyminn, Solstifar have reached a new plateau. Berdreyminn reveals Solstifar’s myriad of sonic and cultural influences – psychedelic and classic rock, folk, ambient, country, classical and I am pleased to say that the vocals are gruffer and rockier than their previous works. This vocal choice may add a heavier tone to Solstifar’s sound but they not lost their ability to entrance and enchant.

The song Hula, for example, begins with gentle, tonal washes of Celtic mysticism which effortlessly glides into dreamy, melodic guitar work that has an almost Chris Isac vibe to it. The vocal work accompanies lead singer Tryggvason’s voice perfectly as does the low-key, introspective approach to the rhythm section. Midway through Hula, we experience the introduction of Opera and indie-rock voices which seamlessly integrate with the use of ambience, country, classical and Tryggvason’s gruffer, vocal tone. As Hula’s masterful arrangement calmly soars towards the crescendo, I am reminded of how much I love lyrics and vocals of a non-English kind. It allows me to interpret the music through the tone and emotion of the singer’s voice rather than any pre-subscribed significance.

But it’s not all thoughtful dreamscapes and operatic extravagance, trust me, Berdreyminn rocks. Take the song Isafold, with its psychedelic riff work which alters but never loses sense of itself, the hypnotism of the percussion and bass, the simple but searing guitar licks or Tryggvason’s rocking vocals on Silfur-Refur that will have you stomping your feet within seconds and endless other examples of why Berdreyminn is an album that affects the viscera as well as the mind.

Berdreyminn is a joy to listen to as it transports you to a time and place outside of yourself. To somewhere more simple, defined and natural. A fine addition to Solstifar’s already respectable output which enhances their very appealing sound and aesthetic (their music videos are great) and reinforces my desire to visit Iceland.

Band: Solstafir
Album: Berdreyminn
Year: 2017
Genre: Post Metal
Label: Season of Mist
Origin: Iceland

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