Eignast Jeppa (2001)
self-released june 2001 on Vogor Records
re-issued august 2003 on Secret Eye with 2 bonus tracks
Debut album was recorded at home using 4-track recorder, a guitar, a bass, melodica, drummachine and alots of tape hiss. Recorded at home using 4-track Tascam 424 MK II recorder, early 2001-early summer 2001 (Vogor Recording).
This album was originally self-released in the summer of 2001. Soundresurrection & additional recording fall 2002.
released 08 June 2003
Ólafur Josephsson: guitars, bass, melodica, drummachine, mixing, composer
Stafraenn Hakon (aka Olafur Josephsson) recorded this at home on a four-track recorder, playing and composing all of the instruments, including guitars, drum programming, keyboards, melodica, bass, and more. It’s meditative, mostly instrumental, ambient rock-trance music. And it’s one of those psych-trance-related early 21st century recordings in which the barrier between new age and alternative rock gets kind of slim. Depending on your taste, that might be a good or bad thing. But this is only average, even-toned music for inner bliss or chilling out, anchored by pleasant but blandly repetitive melodies and riffs, usually with the guitar as the most prominent instrument. Some slightly rumbling and disquieting electronics, drum loops, and distorted voice are the only things that give it more of an edge than other new age music. Originally self-released in 2001, the 2003 edition on Secret Eye includes two bonus songs, “Silfurgeitungur” and “Hroki”; Hakon/Josephsson also did additional recording in the fall of 2002 for the other tracks.
Richie Unterberger | AllMusic.com
The young Icelander Olafur Josephsson is some share blessed of the gods. ‘ Eignast Jeppa’ is its first mini-album left in CDR in 2001 on its own label CDR, Vogor. Since two other albums both in CDR and also limited pullings left. But as the talent always ends up pointing its nose and that a good fairy must take care on him, Stafrænn Hakon walked some of the way its small bit of a walk and started to acquire premises of recognition.
This first album, about which one speaks here, will be republished soon on Secret Eye, a new American label managed by Carin and Jeffrey de The Iditarod. The two discs which followed them will arise on Resonant Records, English label on which left the discs of Kepler, Do Make Say Think, Tarentel or Jessica Bailiff.
The listening of ‘ Eignast Jeppa’ makes very safe be astonished by these republications so much the music which Olafur Josephsson composes is beautiful, dépaysante, personal and moving.
One guesses with the listening of this disc an obvious passion of their author for groups like Godspeed You Black Emperor, Tarentel, Sigur Ros or Mogwai. With the difference close Stafraenn Hakon is a solo project and that same movement one can gain much in intimacy and sincerity. Stafraenn Hakon it is before a whole brother of heart and sensitivity of Aerial M, Album Leaf, Motodestra, Durutti Column or other Chuzzlewit.
Olafur Josephsson uses a drummachine, a guitar, low, some samples and much of effects to build its music. Nothing unusual and one can say either that there are many clearings. There is simply this overall quality which makes us plunge without hesitation in the daydream.
Five beaches, twenty six minutes, ‘ Eignast Jeppa’ fills its time and exceeds its framework by far. The play of low on ‘ Vomiz’ recalls those in vogue on the discs of New Order, Joy Division, Spacemen 3 or even Jessamine, but the acoustic guitar which is above is much softer, plus Aerial M, the air tablecloths are shoegazer and rhythmic the rather melody one. The vocal, standard sample spoken Word, used is not what there is more innovative in the kind but the unit holds the road bloody well and one must acknowledge oneself overcome, captured by environment.
The young person Olafur Josephsson is some share here between lo-fi and post-rock’n’roll, tying the advantages of each mobility and trying to flee the nuisances of them. ‘ Holkur’ is like a poem on an unmethodical bit of paper and that one writes sitted on a stone bench, with the turning of a halt in the medium of a walk as a recluse in the search of resourcings. Not large thing, a beach of a little less than five minutes to charming sonorities, the known ingredients but to unexpected generated poetry, disarming. It is remarkable how a fragile grace rises here, how breathings can be done deeper as one can almost have the feeling to pass a course.
With ‘ Þurr Hanski’ one is now in the heart of the disc, with the shelter, taken refuge at home, with the heat while it freezes outside, that the sky is clear and pure and that the day starts to fall. One walks without making noise as seized by the transitory character of these moments. By our capacity to be passed through the winter. By the talent of Stafraenn Hakon for which perhaps a long career opens.
On ‘ Sitronudurgur’ there is one I do not know what of Album Leaf which projects us a smile with the face, a light enthusiasm which scintillates like the sunbeams being made iridescent while crossing the crystals of white frost, of beautiful frozen landscapes, covered with snow and alleviating, the cold which makes redden our cheeks and our laughter to launch out snowballs in the medium of abundant falls of flakes.
This mini-album finishes already with ‘ Verkfæri’, as in the contemplation of a polar twilight where the thin sun is still able to dazzle us despite everything, royal and rougeoyant, with tablecloths one cannot crystalline any more, quasi réminiscentes of Roy Montgomery. The rates/rhythms are choked and remote, like those of the life which continues to pulsate gently under snow and the ice and which waits spring calmly. Us, one continues to live above, in the middle of the winter. Not a noise at the horizon right of great white and calm extents.
Narcotic first mini-album for Stafrænn Hakon which has already the fabric of large. New star of the post-rock’n’roll intimist.
Didier | Matamore Webzine
Icelandic one man band Olafur Josephsson first released this as a CDR in Iceland in 2002; here it’s been expanded by two previously unissued tracks to make this a forty minute, seven song North American debut for this formidable talent. The closest comparisons would likely be Land of Nod, or maybe Bjørn Olsson; making these almost minimal warm/cool spacious evocations out of the most basic of ingredients. Guitars, bass, drum programming, melodica, and keyboards, spun into these somnolent waking dream states that form themselves into a hovering weightless forward motion of empathic cool euphoria. Dream music, as they say; almost all instrumentals, but the vocals when present are often wraith-like, soft spoken and nonverbal. There is something so coolly Icelandic sounding about this, that it’s hard to imagine it radiating from anywhere else. Glacial chill and vastness, hypnotic grace, with an immediate emotional accessibility that needs no translation
Eignast Jeppa is total la-la-la music without any la-la-las. Instrumental drifting bliss-out from the frosty, mystic isle of Iceland — although it’s a lot warmer sounding than that land of origin might suggest. And I don’t think we’re guilty of any cheap comparisons when we say: for fans of Sigur Ros. Indeed, for folks who aren’t fans of Sigur Ros too, ’cause there’s none of those sappy vocals that put us off Sigur Ros a bit here at AQ, just some quiet whispers now and then. It’s just lovely lovely stuff in a post-rock vein that could be from the Temporary Residence camp, or perhaps the work of Sweden’s Bjorn Olsson, or an echo of krautrock duo Cluster from decades past. Epic yet snuggly. This is but one of *three* new albums by Stafraenn Hakon, the solo project of one Olafur Josephsson, with the other two being released by the UK’s Resonant label (one’s out already and will be reviewed here next time, the other should be out soon too). This one’s his first, though, having been originally released on cd-r in Iceland in 2002 but now out domestically on cd with 2 extra tracks via the Secret Eye label run by folks from Black Forest/Black Sea. Josephsson records on a 4-track in his basement, layering guitars and melodica over sparse drum loops, all very mellow and pretty. Whenever we play any Stafraenn Hakon in the store, somebody always asks what it is and buys a copy (or at least asks to write down the name for future purchasing reference). A very nice discovery.
Stafrænn Hákon is not Stafrænn Hákon. Well, okay, he is. But for wacky foreigners like me who can’t tell their rass from their olnbogi, or a stage name from a real one, he’s actually Olafur Josephsson. And he’s beaming sounds from his bedroom in Iceland to yours, wherever it may be.
The bulk of this album was recorded in Josephsson’s home in 2001, then self-released on CD-Rs only in Iceland. Thankfully, Rhode Island-based Secret Eye picked it up. And then dropped it. No, they didn’t. They released it—replete with additional recordings cajoled out of Hákon—to an instrumental-music-hungry public in 2002. That’s what they did!
Now, let’s face one bull horns first. There’s a lot of twittering these days about Iceland. You know what I’m talking about. And in a lot of ways, it’s been extended to this sort of pan-Icelandic generalization, with blurb-writers comparing the country’s various sonic pioneers to one another, and that’s pretty inappropriate if you ask me. Even the indier-than-indie record store in San Francisco where I procured …Eignast Jeppa said “for fans of” this other band. Um. Let’s call them Cereal. Or Serious. Or maybe TV Series Host. Ahem. In this case, the name-dropping could hardly be more inappropriate.
It seems that Stafrænn Hákon is classed in the post-rock category (apologies to all who hate that term… hi Rich!), but you won’t find any buildups, climaxes, or epic anything. In fact, the three musical comparisons that popped into my head while listening were The Album Leaf, Her Space Holiday, and Brian Eno. No, not this Brian Eno. The “Deep Blue Day” Brian Eno. I’m getting slightly off track here. Sorry.
…Eignast Jeppa’s first track, “Vomiz,” opens with a shimmering drone and shiny guitar scrapings, always a promise of good things to come. A slightly scary echo-soaked voice tells us… well… something in Icelandic, and then the beat kicks in with a groovy little guitar riff. The majority of the album follows this drone + guitar work formula with the occasional melodica thrown in, but that’s not to say it isn’t interesting. It’s beautiful. The guitar work in particular is lovely all-through, and who can argue with lots of shiny, droney, washing synths?
Some tracks such as “Sítrónudurgur” are a little more background-y than one might hope for, and by “Silfurgeitungur” it starts feeling like we’re in very familiar territory if you’ve been listening really closely… but I wouldn’t call it repetitive. As a lovely, spacey, casual listen, all the tracks on this record work together quite nicely. And possibly the album’s biggest weakness is the fact that all the beats are a bit shallow and boxy, but as far as weaknesses go it isn’t too distracting, and Hákon’s done a good job of masking the drum machine sound for the most part. I mean, hell! The man did this in his bedroom! Give him a break.
Highlights, besides the excellent “Vomiz,” are the dronier, Eno-ier tracks “Verkfæri” and album-closer “Hroki.” Both of them make me feel all floaty and peaceful, the way I did while listening to Mazzy Star in my high school days. And “Hroki” has the tastiest fade-out I’ve heard in a long time. It’s just yum, kids. Yum. So if you’re feeling the need to expand your collection of Icelandic discs, make some room between your Mom and your Cereal for a little Stafrænn. It’ll get you ready for reviews of the other albums… um… as long as I can hunt them down.