Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eik - 1977 - Hrislan og Straumurinn

Hrislan og Straumurinn

01. Hríslan og straumurinn (14:23)
02. Eitthvað almennilegt (4:05)
03. Diskósnúðurinn (2:01)
04. Í dvala (2:23)
05. Átthagar (3:17)
06. Fúnk (4:16)
07. Fjöll (4:27)
08. Í stuttu máli (0:48)

- Magnus Finnur Johannsson / vocals, flute
- Thorsteinn Magnusson / guitar, Mini Moog, vocals
- Petur Hjaltested / keyboards
- Asgeir Oskarsson / drums
- Haraldur Thorsteinsson / bass, percussion, vocals
- Tryggvi Julius Hubner / guitar, percussion, vocals

"Hrislan Og Straumurinn" was released in 1977 with a new line-up, and probably (I say probably because I have not heard their first album) with a different sound. Stealing Tryggvi Hubner's words, this is "a very progressive album, complicated polyrhythms and at times unbelievable virtuosic playing." What better than the word of a guy who was member of this band.

Since I discovered this album I felt enthusiastic because I actually didn't know any progressive band from Iceland, so it was like a new experience to me. Though I don't really know if they incorporated some folk or traditional elements from their country, I can say that their sound is very peculiar.

This record features eight songs and a total time of 35 minutes. It kicks off with the title track which is also the longest one. A 14-minute track that serves as a fantastic introduction to the band's sound. The first moments have some nervous and even dark atmosphere created by piano and keyboard noises. At minute three, percussion appears and gives a new direction to the song. Now the sound is totally from a progressive rock band. It has an excellent bass sound, along with cool guitar and keyboard solos and pretty nice drumming. There is also a beautiful flute appearing in some periods which adds beauty to the song.

After minute six, vocals appear, but since the language is unknown to me I cannot judge lyrics. However, I like the way they put the vocals after that sensational first part of the song. Here the sound is more melodic and soft, there is a lead vocal but also backing ones, and sounds good. The song keeps this structure for a few minutes, and later it suddenly changes to an instrumental song whose passages are spectacularly well composed and played. I really live the bass sound on this track. Later there is another stop and another change, again to the soft part with vocals.

"Eitthvad Almennilegt" starts with weird vocals, but a few seconds later it becomes pretty interesting. The music and rhythm reminds me a bit of Gentle Giant, there are a great guitar and an awesome bass sound. Some short stops and tempo changes. Also notice the keyboard sound which adds a special flavor.

"Diskosnudurinn" is a short track, like an interlude which has some Zappa/Beefheart vocals style. The music has that same style as the previous ones, though this time the song is pretty short to show up their qualities. "I Dvala" has acoustic guitar, some seconds later bass and another guitar join and make a pretty folkish sound. And later electric guitar appears along with vocals. In moments it also reminds me of some 70s Italian bands, they have a similar style in moments. The acoustic guitar riffs are great, worth mentioning.

"Atthagar" starts again with acoustic guitar, but with a different mood. Calm and soft is the first part of this track, while the second one turns faster and provoking, with again a superb bass sound. "Funk" is an interesting instrumental track that has some cool guitars that remind me of Jan Akkerman, the bass lines are splendid along with the drums. The final part is also interesting due to the keyboard sound and those nice guitars.

"Fjoll" opens with Spanish-like acoustic guitar, but immediately after it turns into a nice soft melody. A warm flute sound at half the song which makes it better. And the album finishes with the shortest one "I Stuttu Mali" which is just a one minute outro with nice bass sound as the main character, accompanied with some acoustic guitar as background.

This is a wonderful album which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to explore music from different parts of the world, and for those who simply like progressive rock.

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