I don’t know how long it takes for an average band to get its debut album out, my guessing is it isn’t around ten years. Well thats about how long it has taken Náttfari to get their first album, Töf, out onto the virtual streets. But released it is, at least in download form, and can be bought from their Gogokoko site for a mere (if oddly priced) 7.65 euros.
I have burbled about this rather fine Icelandic band before, around the time that the track Dynjandi Leðja was made available, and have been led to them by the equally fine Stafrænn Hákon with whom they share band members in the shape of Ólafur Josephsson and Haraldur Þorsteinsson as well as Nói Steinn Einarsson and Andri Ásgrímsson (on a quite different note I am totally seduced by letters such as Þ, ð and the whole Icelandic language which means nothing to me but looks and sounds so enticing)
They tag themselves as Post-Rock, Ambient Rock, Indie, Salsa, which to be honest might be seen as trying to cover a few too many bases, but what it does mean is this no run of the mill post-rock outfit. I am very partial to a bit of post-rock myself, but have to admit to it all getting a bit wearing sometimes, a bit too formulaic. No such worries here.
Yes of course this is largely instrumental music, with its grandiose and sumptuous sound-scapes (in my glorious ignorance I rather hope the sound maps to my visions of the Icelandic countryside) but there is lightness of touch here, a more carefully constructed and considered suite of music.
Yes it’s grand but not graniloquent, bold and emotional but not full of bombast. The use of glockenspiel in the opening track Sumardagurinn fyrsti is reminiscent of the great Tortoise, the guitar work in Dynjandi Leðja evokes nothing less than David Gilmour’s guitar during Echoes. There is a wide pallet of light and shade here when so often, in a post-rock sort of way, you get just the black and white.
It may have taken them a mighty long time to get here but for me it was well worth the wait, an album that delights and rewards both immediately and after repeated listens.
Now if only I understood the track titles… the great Google translator claims (although I have serious reservations) that they might mean something along the following lines (all accurate corrections welcome):Sumardagurinn fyrsti – First Days of School, Dynjandi Leðja – Dynjandi Muds (really?), Töf – Delay, Kafarinn – Divers, Við erum Náttfarar -We are Nightwear (I rather hope this one is true), Rúni – Runes, Lævís köttur – Cunning Cat, Bál -Ball and Stian – Stian….
postscript – see Andri’s comments below for an accurate version of the titles… colour me (inevitably) embarrassed …
Sumardagurinn fyrsti – Náttfari