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Sólstafir: Otta

Album Review

Iceland’s melancholic cowboys light up the dark once again.

Reykjavik’s Sólstafir perfectly embody what an alien place Iceland is, and their use of their indecipherable yet spellbinding mother tongue cements that idea.

Three years ago they stepped out of the dark into the light with Svartir Sandar, a spontaneous record so full of ideas that it had to be a double. Its wild nature was vivid and all over the place, but on Ótta, this has somehow been tamed. If Aalbjörn Tryggvason still howls like a lone wolf, when the guitars are to the fore they have a focused drive like never before. A particular highlight, the Wovenhand-inspired epic title track has a hypnotising main riff intertwined with banjo, but there are also moments when everything just stands still and with the delicate, well-crafted string arrangements, the six-strings take on a ghostly shape. On Midaftann they weave ice-cold textures à la Sigur Rós, conveying a very strong and cinematic sense of wide open space. Akin to its beautiful artwork (shot on the black-sanded beaches of Reynisfjara on Iceland’s southern coast),_ Ótta _is an organic yet melancholic beast, caught up in its natural habitat where it’s cold, rainy and dark, yet also intensely beautiful. OZB

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