Somnambule - Writing About Music

Stafrænn Hákon ~Í Ástandi Rjúpunnar

In the mood for something beatific? Feel like being gilded in bronze and stretching luxuriously out for 72 minutes and 24 seconds? Then this one’s for you. Stafrænn Hákon is a guitarist with a number of similar unpronounceable (unless you’re Icelandic) releases under his belt.

Iodine and Afglapi bear a remarkable resemblance to a short piece by minimalist composer John Adams called Christian Zeal And Activity. There’s a very similar spaced Christian preacher sample paired with the same becalmed, wistful and elongated ambience. I wonder if Hákon’s familiar with the piece. And Skortur isn’t a million miles from Deathprod's rich, swirling ambiences. It's long (almost 17 minutes) and slow and it traverses a number of passages in a likeably stately manner. If you’ve time to spare, set this one on repeat, lie back and close your eyes. Hvarf could melt an ice cream at 30 yards.

Í Ástandi Rjúpunnar (and no I don’t know what it means) is full of great big slow moving, circular gusts of sound which alternate occasionally with chiming, pendulously echoing notes. There’s a recognisably Icelandic warmth verging on loveliness. For fans of Mum, Sigur Ros et al. If you’ve ever felt emotionally beaten up - like your soul's been stomped all over by muddy boots... If you’ve ever wished you could soak your soul in a long hot bubble bath... then this album's for you.
Colin Buttimer
August 2004
Published by Absorb