Stafraenn Hakon : Gummi

You know that dream where you’re flying? The one in which you’re miles above the ground, yet you are at peace. I actually don’t know that dream personally. I’ve never had a dream in which I fly. I’ve had plenty that have found me falling, waking suddenly and feeling as if I had just been levitating above the bed, but never actual flying. I wonder why that is. Maybe it’s just that I don’t ever remember my dreams. Friends over the years have always notified me of their dream life. I’ve heard plenty of stories about dreams in which friends’ teeth fall out or acquaintances and places are sharply back in focus after years of absence. One friend of mine had a recurring dream in which he was lying on a beach when an alligator swam out of the water and began to slowly eat him from the feet up. Upon hearing this, that night another friend had a dream with the same alligator, except that he began eating my friend from the head down. Rather than be horrified, he simply began to calmly tell the alligator that he was going about this all wrong. I’ve definitely had the dream where I’m not prepared for the final exam plenty of times (and I’ve been out of school for thirteen years), but never in memory have I flown.

I have a feeling that Icelandic musician Olafur Josephsson has experienced that dream and his album, Gummi, recorded under the name Stafraenn Hakon, is what I imagine the soundtrack for that particular dream might be. Josephsson is a multi-instrumentalist, but was mostly known as a proficient guitarist in his native Reykjavik before the release of Gummi. On this latest album, Josephsson plays over fourteen different instruments, overlapping them and weaving them into a sonic structure that makes one feel like, well, flying. There’s a lighter than air sensation about these tracks, as if one wrong note could send the whole thing plummeting earthward, but each chord, phrase and even lyric buffets the song enough to keep it aloft, like a draft under the song’s outstretched wings. Most listeners will agree that there are a lot of similarities between epic post-rock Icelandic bands, no names need be mentioned, but Stafraenn Hakon takes some different approaches. For one, Josephsson employs the use of a few different vocalists to interpret his material, all of them singing in English.

Josephsson describes his newest batch of songs as `relaxing.’ There’s probably no more fitting a word in existence. The music of Gummi puts you at ease immediately, as if you are wrapped in a warm cocoon. Stafraenn Hakon is the anti-punk rock album. Whereas punk wanted to shock you into attention then drop you full speed on your head as songs screeched to a halt, Hakon wants you to let your guard down, to open yourself up to the possibilities of the landscapes of sound within, and finally, to fly.

Similar Albums:
Sigur Rós- Takk
Múm- Finally We Are No One
Slint- Spiderland

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