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Stafrænn Hákon

Skvettir edik á ref

August 1, 2002

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The first release outside of his homeland for Iceland’s STAFRÆNN HÁKON, centred around the majestic soundscapes of Olafur Josephsson, a young man with incredible talent and a big future. “Skvettir Edik A Ref” doesn’t represent his recording debut, but it certainly announces his arrival on the international scene in a grand style; this is the first of two STAFRÆNN HÁKON albums to be re-released on Resonant after initially being available in Iceland only via Olafur’s own label Vogor Recordings (“I Astaandi RJ Punnar” follows early next year), and collectively they form the finest body of work in the post-rock genre in years. Resonant have also committed to releasing the first new studio album for two years from the band early in 2004. That said, to pigeonhole STAFRÆNN’s work as post-rock doesn’t even tell half the story. Bringing to mind Labradford, Tarentel or an instrumental Sigur Ros, his music is epic, incredibly emotive and atmospheric – and though the component parts tread a fairly familiar path, the end product is anything but formulaic.

ARTIST INFO:

Stafrænn Hákon started in early 1999 after splitting from his original college band ‘Sullaveiki bandormurinn’ experimenting with guitars & drum loops. After being a guitarist in his previous band, Stafrænn was craving to create his own musical sound-world based on distorted guitars and various instruments. Things started slowly at first mostly writing unsweeping ambient guitarworks onto his 4-track recorder. Whilst exploring his own sound and his discovery of the world of drum machines and loops, Stafrænn Hákon began to write more ‘proper-songs’ on his 4-track. The year is 2001 and Stafrænn is playing songs known to be on his debut EP ‘Eignast Jeppa’ self-released on his own Vogor recording outfit. Songs such as ‘Vomiz’, the opener on ‘Eignast Jeppa’ and ‘Sítrónudurgur’ were Stafrænn´s new style of writing his works.

It was in early June 2001 that Stafrænn decided to take is EP and try to sell it in the local underground record shop ‘Hljómalind’. The EP sold around 150-200 copies at the shop. In late 2001 Stafrænn had already written his second work entitled ‘í ástandi rjúpunnar’, which was much darker and the sound was far more ambient than it´s predecessor. This work saw Stafrænn collaborating with his previous band mate S.Sammi who wrote 2 songs on the album. The album was self-released again on Vogor records in mid-January 2002. In March 2002 Stafrænn opened up a show for Godspeed You Black Emperor, which might be the peak of his career so far. Again Stafrænn was ready with another album in spring time of 2002. The album ‘Skvettir edik á ref’ was again self-released on Vogor in July 2002. This time Stafrænn put more blood into the manufacturing part, and the cover art and sleeve were homemade during the summer of 2002 as a digipack. Released 30th August 2003.

Album was recorded, mixed and mastered at home.All songs by Stafrænn Hákon except KOFI & SAFI by Samuel White & Stafrænn Hákon.Þröstur Sigurðsson played trombone on EFLING & SAFI

Tracklist

Tætir Rækju
Kofi
Skref
C-Vernd
Efling
E.K
Nálgast
Tálkn
Grifflur
Safi

Lyrics

REVIEWS

BOOMKAT

First release outside of his homeland for Iceland's Stafrann Hakon, centred around the majestic soundscapes of Olafur Josephsson, a young man with incredible talent and a big future. "Skvettir Edik A Ref" doesn't represent his recording debut, but it certainly announces his arrival on the international scene in a grand style; this is the first of two Stafrann albums to be released in the next few months on Resonant ("I Astaandi RJ Punnar" follows soon) and collectively they form the finest body of work in Iceland's formidable post-rock / electronica scene in quite some time. Bringing to mind Labradford, Tarentel or an instrumental Sigur Ros, his music is epic, incredibly emotive and atmospheric - and though the component parts tread a fairly familiar path, the end product is anything but formulaic. Highly Recommended.

BRAINWASHED.COM

Journalists invent music sub-genres when they get tired of comparing musical artists to another musical act. While Icelander Olafur Josephsson is once again showcasing his amazing playing, arrangement,and compositional talents for his second full-length disc as Stafrænn Hákon, it's painfully difficult to escape the comparisons to Mogwai.(In addition, it's rather ironic than Josephsson now makes Glasgow his home.) All of his music is instrumental once again on this, his first release to be put out through somebody other than himself. For ten songs, the guitar and effects-driven melodies are a blissful wash of drifting audio landscapes. It's quite easy to get completely lost in the music's beauty. Numerous songs like "Tætir rækju" pulse with a subtle beat and move within somewhat predictable, and enjoyable while beat-less tunes like "Grifflur" are chilling and turbulent like the bright moonlight reflecting off of cold, icy waters. With the addition of organic drum work and chiming sounds, however, songs like the closer"Safi" are unmistakably resemblant of Mogwai's tunes from their EP +release. There's nothing unpleasant about any of the songs, but what'slacking perhaps is an element of the unexpected, the unpredictable, or chaos. There's so much that can be done with this music, but Josephsson chooses a route which leaves most of the music completely as is. While it may reduce the chances of being accused of being gimmicky, it doessound derivative. Skvettir Edik à Ref is a good second album and will surely please a ton of fans of the more gentle side of instrumental guitar music. There is a load of potential for Stefrænn Hákon to be amazing but it's just not quite at that level yet.

COMES WITH A SMILE

A re-release of a record previously only available in small chunks back in his Icelandic homeland, 'Skvettir Edik A Ref' marks the first widely-released music from multi-instrumentalist Olafur Josephsson aka Stafrann Hakon. Instantly reminiscent of Tarentel and fellow countrymen Sigur Ros, Stafrann Hakon writes extremely slow moving, atmospheric instrumentals where tranquil guitars and a looming haze recall Mogwai's recent tremendous â?? but initially almost transparent â?? 'Happy Songs For Happy People' album. There are no vocals, no words at all, just occasional distant hints of voices, plus tiny hues of percussion and piano that swell most beautifully on the LP's mid-point EK. Something old, something borrowed, something distinctly blue. Something to make your wounded heart weep.

BENZINE

[FRENCH GOOGLE TRANSLATE]
Little manual of snowy melancholy. This is the subtitle we could give to the opus of Olafur Josephsson aka Stafraenn Hakon . Icelandic, Hakon cultivates in his music a sadness made of melting snow and moss which covers even the very beautiful cover of the album. LP distributed widely by the Resonant label after a sly trip confined to the shores of the North Island. A new album should also reach our ears at the beginning of 2004 .

We got to know musical Iceland, in the 90s, through the work of Sugar Cubes, Björk and Gus Gus … We discovered at the beginning of this new century that electronica was not the only iron of launch of this   musical scene, when the very languorous and ethereal albums of Sigùr Ros arrived on the turntables . Stafraenn Hakon vplaces his essay in the second category of representatives of the island.

More melodic or cyclic than the illustrious group Sigùr Ros , Skvettir edik a ref is above all less experimental and “arty”. The album draws from the ashes of post rock the ability to translate Josephsson 's moods into long aerial tracks , in tune with the landscape of his country of origin (the recent migration of man to Edinburgh is does it presage new influences in the music of man?). More mature than a Mogwaifor example, less assertive and above all enraged, Stafraenn Hakon 's compositions are made of gentle sadness, desolation, cold or damp winds, dark earth and apparent regrets.

It is difficult to extract one title more than another from this temporal and musical continuum formed by Skvettir edik a ref. You enter his universe by chance and almost backwards, and you end up feeling almost rude to leave the host before having drunk his sonic story to the last note.

Progressing in a spiral, the album invites itself with a few folk guitar arpeggios: first amplified then slightly distended. We then spot a breath of recording too present to be fortuitous. A feedback follows, followed by a few notes of midday piano, or electronic balalaika, which gradually flesh out each of the pieces of history that the disc likes to tell us. The bass-drums duo always stays in the background, a kind of heartbeat, underlying rhythm to the whole album. Main ingredients of these ten beaches, they will never leave us; imprinting in our (wave on the) soul the images that the author tends to suggest to us. Hypnosis is the strong point of this effective album. Progressing step by step in the universe of its author, the listener is completely invaded by this sound maëlstromm which succeeds in transmitting the sensations and images that the musician seeks to share with his audience.

Middle way between Mogwai and Sigùr Ros , Stafraenn Hakon does not pose as a great renovator of a genre that is now widely represented. However, by dint of musical tricks in the form of a hypnotic gaze, he manages to introduce us right into the middle of his melancholic and rugged universe. Without any other claim than to share his melancholy. And he achieves his goal, with the greatest humility.