Yet another miracle comes from Iceland to become the perfect soundtrack for autumn or winter as well, if you prefer. I, for one, will probably be listening to it nonstop until next summer. Solstafir have walked a long road to reach the music style of “Otta”, an album that is probably the climax of the experimentation with their sound. From the Viking/ black start, to the more progressive black following, the post rock elements that were planted in “Köld” and took root in “Svartir Sandar” can now be heard in “Otta” in all their majesty.
This new direction becomes instantly recognizable – and beloved- by the listener with the first two tracks, the opener “Lágnætti” and the same titled “Otta” (perhaps the greatest song this band has graced us with, at least on this kind of style of their discography). The first impression is that you’ve rounded up members of Aggaloch and fellow Icelanders Sigur Ros and you’ve let them jam over the amazing voice of Solstafir’s singer. But every comparison fades away when the amazing banjo sounds during the same titled song, thus making apparent how much Solstafir have evolved their already unique sound.
Any time the violin and the piano make their appearance, it is sheer magic. Almost no rhythm goes to waste and the soft, ambient parts, just like the piano and violin, are not used in some corny sentimental way. They effectively serve the purpose of building a beautifully melancholic atmosphere, an atmosphere which bonds perfectly with the power and “darkness” of the artwork (check out Miðaftann for example). The many emotions contained in this image are equivalent to the number of emotions that you’ll find inside the songs of this album. “And how do you understand which feeling each song is about, when all the lyrics are Icelandic?” one may logically wonder.
The answer is found in the powerful performance of Aðalbjörn Tryggvason who utilizes the whole range of his clean vocals. Sometimes enraged and desperate to get out of his system the perfectly fitting and borderline theatrical vocal lines e created, other times calmer and more atmospheric, whatever feeling he wants to pass on to the listener, the listener gets it in an instant. And don’t you think that Solstafir are afraid to step on the distortion pedal. Any time the guitars and bass are required to participate, it’s a real fucking show; either we are talking about the classic, frenzied post rock outbursts, or addictive post punk rhythms.
These outbursts come unexpectedly, in the same way an Icelandic geyser explodes. Honestly, I feel that, with “Otta“, the majestic landscape of this country, sometimes peaceful and other times fierce, has found its perfect soundtrack (or if you think that it already had it with some release by Sigur Ros, then “Otta” will seem to you as the perfect supplement to that release). The only certain thing is that in every twist and turn of this album, you are bound to find something new and unexpected that will excite you.