Album of the Year 2017 – Number 13
Welcome to day 18 of my ‘Album of the Year 2017 top 30 countdown’.
I have finally done it. 17 days into my epic countdown and I have had my first murmurs of disagreement. I told you it would happen; it was just a question of when. Perhaps with hindsight I should have awarded Persefone’s wonderful ‘Aathma’ with a higher position in my listings. However, with it being such a strong year, I had to go with my heart. Therefore, however technically adept and entertaining ‘Aathma’ is, there are several albums that have moved me more.
And when it is something as subjective as music, I have to go with the most important thing – the effect that the music has on me, regardless of whether or not it’s a popular decision. I have nothing without a little bit of integrity.
Take today’s choice for example. This is a record that might not be the most technically proficient or flamboyant but it speaks to me on a number of emotional levels. And that’s why it has sneaked in ahead of something as intense and excellent as Persefone’s ‘Aathma’.
As always, if you have missed any of the previous posts in this series, links can be found at the bottom of this post along with links to the entire countdowns from previous years.
Season of Mist
“…what Sólstafir have succeeded in doing so eloquently with…this new record, ‘Berdreyminn’, is give voice to the natural splendour of their native land, as depicted in the evocative cover art work courtesy of Adam Burke. Fragile and brittle melodies alongside quiet and calm soundscapes give rise to introspective thought and an appreciation of the beauty of their homeland. But juxtaposed with this are sections of grittier, heavier and more powerful swells and eddies of sound that serve as a timely reminder that the beauty can be deceptive, ready to ensnare those unprepared for the harsher, more unforgiving realities of the oft bleak and barren land.
The production on ‘Berdreyminn’ further enhances the authenticity of the music, allowing it to live and breathe with a vibrancy that a more polished affair might have eradicated. As it is, ‘Berdreyminn’ often has the glorious feel of an untamed, wild beast.
The music is pretty killer too. It is an impressive and absorbing body of work that is very consistent throughout and works better as a whole.
When listening to ‘Berdreyminn’, the blending of post rock with classic rock, metal, psychedelia and ambient sensibilities feels utterly natural and in no way forced. Even when joined by brass, piano and strings, everything fits together perfectly.
…how can one fault music that has such heart, such life and such majesty? More importantly for me though, ‘Berdreyminn’ serves to merely strengthen my deep love and affinity with Sólstafir’s homeland. And for that I am forever thankful.”
Read the full review here.
As much as I enjoy complex and technical music, I am the first to admit that sometimes, something altogether simpler can be just as impactful. The case in point is the majestic music of Sólstafir, as witnessed on their latest opus, the sensational ‘Berdreyminn’.
To refer to the music of Sólstafir as simple however, would be to do it a huge disservice. Because, whilst it’s fair and accurate to say that ‘Berdreyminn’ is not drenched in odd time signatures, technical verbosity and indulgent individual prowess, the music is in no way straightforward, easy or lacking in any way.
The music of Sólstafir is powerful, evocative and moving and this is no mean feat in itself. As my review quotes above suggest, it is also a clever marriage of many different styles of music, from ambient to classic rock, and from psychedelia to bruising heavy metal. It all comes together seamlessly too, to create soundscapes that are bold and compelling.
For me, with my strong emotional links to Sólstafir’s homeland, theirs is the perfect soundtrack to convey the rugged and stark beauty of Iceland. One moment, a gorgeously fragile melody will wrap you in a warm embrace, whilst in the next breath, you’re left cold and alone in the snow-covered mountains with only an icy wall of post-rock sound for bitter company.
I adore the fact that the lyrics are delivered in Icelandic and I also embrace the fact that the organic production allows the music to be heard warts and all, creating an authenticity that only serves to make the music even more powerful and honest.
And it’s that word ‘honest’ that I think describes the music of Sólstafir best. It’s not polished, it’s honest and from the heart. And that, right there, is what I liked best about ‘Berdreyminn’ when I first heard it. And now, over six months later, that’s what I still like best about ‘Berdreyminn’ – that and the killer songs that continue to make an impact on me every time I listen.
If you missed either of my 2017 ‘honourable mentions’ posts, here they are should you be interested:
Album of the Year 2017 – honourable mentions Part 1
Album of the Year 2017 – honourable mentions Part 2
Previous posts in my 2017 Top 30 countdown:
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 30
And from previous years:
Album of the Year 2016
Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012