Prammi (2012)

This album was made with various instruments at home during some period of time.
Finalized at home in late 2012.
Songs composed, played, recorded, mixed and mastered by Ólafur Josephsson/Stafrænn Hákon.
Some drumsamples where used that contain the playing of Daniel Lovegrove.
Samuel White originally composed the song „Hvarf-12“ that appeared on the album „Í ástandi rjúpunnar“. This is a revisited version.

Vocals and words on „Klump“ by Magnús Freyr Gíslason and Ólafur Josephsson
Vocals and words on „Hoff“ by Birgir Sigurjónsson
Some acoustic arrangements by Lárus Sigurðsson
Trombone on „The Son“ by Þröstur Sigurðsson
Cello on „The Son“ by Þórður Hermannsson
Words on “Rækjuhals” by Svanur Magnus of Per:Segulsvið
Cover photo by Ingibjörg Sigurjónsdóttir
Thanks to Ingibjörg, Magnús Freyr, Árni, Lárus, Samúel, Birgir, Svanur, Daniel, George , Þröstur, Þórður

PRESS RELEASE:
The Icelandic Stafrænn Hákon will release his 7th album in November / December, „Prammi“.  The album contains 13 compositions that were written and produces by Olafur Josephsson, the driving force of Stafrænn Hákon.

Since 2001 Olafur has recorded under the Stafrænn Hákon moniker and released large amount of records under different monikers or projects such as Calder, Per:Segulsvið and Náttfari (who released the wonderful „TÖF“ last year.)

„Prammi“is a balance between a lighter melodic song structure and heavy wall of guitar sounds and drones. On his last record „Sanitas“ Stafrænn was experimenting with more poppier structures throughout the record with a less focus on the heavier aspect.

„Prammi“contains segments of scary guitar drones and also a large amount of more constructed compositions that might even sound like a collaboration between Phil Collins and Sun Ra with Seal at the mixing desk.

The Greek underground label „Sound in Silence“will release the record in a limited of 300 copies.

 

Reviews

AUDIOGOURMET

The first label to approach this year since my intentions of increasing the posts on Audio Gourmet for 2013 is Sound In Silence. They kindly send over their two latest releases for review, by Stafrænn Hákon and J.R Alexander.

So first up, I present my thoughts about the latest Stafrænn Hákon album ‘Prammi’, which has already been reissued due to popular demand. Stafrænn Hákon is the pseudonym for Icelandic artist Olafur Josephsson, the work of whom I have been following for a few years now. For those new to his sound, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d fall into a similar category as the likes of Olafur Arnalds and Johann Johannsson, since Iceland is renowned for producing quality modern classical music. However, Josephsson is perhaps most known for his post-rock sound, active since the late nineties.

Before I began to listen, I took a glance at the tracklist and noticed something familiar – the inclusion of a piece named ‘Hvarf 12’ and having listened, it seems to be a 2012 adaptation of a track included on Stafrænn Hákon’s ‘Í Ástandi Rjúpunnar’ album.
Josephsson’s more recent material has been increasingly veering to a purer rock sound, with the additions of upbeat drums and guitar patterns and vocals. Whereas his earlier works were perhaps more subdued instrumental post-rock. Where ‘Prammi’ is particularly effective is that it draws on this artist’s years of experience and through all of the different sounds in his albums. It is evenly spaced using the careful placing of these different styles through each track.

Prammi opens out with what you might describe as the classic Stafrænn Hákon sound before moving towards his more recent work in the second track ‘Klump’, which hints at the work of Boduf Songs, which is never a bad thing! On from this, we here the re-interpretation of Hvarf which then moves onto something new to broaden the album’s palette…a piece of pure droning texture.
Whilst ‘A Personal Voyage To Meat Planet’ is oddly titled, it does offer respite from the pleasant, largely upbeat post-rock sound that preceded. Not only this, its minimalism offers a pause in which anticipation for the rest of the album heightens. I gather that fans of pop and rock genres would skip the drone pieces but in doing this, we rid the album of its most effective part.
When I used to DJ, I would often play a couple of tracks that were largely percussion, stripped back and minimal. I would then follow this with something melodic and with a lot of atmosphere, with the impact heightened by the few minutes of minimalism that went before it.

Sure enough, the melodic post-rock returns and with impact. This is then followed by another short interlude of textured ambience aptly titled ‘Passage’. I can’t help thinking here, that perhaps it would be more effective to swap this with the following track ‘Hoff’, which would space the tracks and their differing sounds apart a little. That said, this point is of such little bearing on the overall effect of Prammi and who am I to question Josephsson’s ideas. Prammi continues along with the effective formula of post-rock, both instrumental and vocal interspersed with short drones to great effect.
By the time we hit tenth track ‘Lusher’, a more laid-back and vibe sets in, followed by the fractured music box tones of ‘Before’. For me, the album is at its most beautiful in its final quarter which is rounded off with ‘Wait’, the album’s darkest piece. Again, its placing is apt – it makes sense to include this as the last track; a final reflective moment as this remarkable album draws to a close.

Physical copies are still available at the time of writing, hand-made and hand-numbered by this excellent emerging label. Their current roster of artists is more than enough to make their Bandcamp page a regular haunt amongst fans of quality experimental music.
I’ve been a long-term fan so I feel qualified to issue this bold statement: Stafrænn Hákon’s ‘Prammi’ is perhaps his most accomplished body of work to date and rewards a listener that gives it the time to play out in full. The way that Olafur Josephsson positions the tracks whether upbeat, laid-back, instrumental, vocal or glacial is what sets everything off here. He has shown great restrain in creating this album, which will shine whatever the weather. Highly recommended

 

HYPNAGOGUE

Here’s what happened when I was listening to Prammi, from Icelandic ambient/post-rock outfit Stafrænn Hákon, fronted by Ólafur Josephsson. There I was, cooly grooving along to some jangly guitars and indie-rock edge, feeling like I wanted to be chilling somewhere near the water with a cold beverage (because this, apparently, is how I take my post-rock) and just soaking in the sounds, when after a few tracks, things…changed. I found myself adrift in a sort of whispering-wind flow of guitar drones and I thought, so this is where we’re going. But no–after a few minutes I was quietly deposited back in front of that post-rock outfit for a couple more songs before things changed again. The thing about Prammi is that it not only offers two different takes, it hits both of them spot-on. The post-rock work has a bit of a gritty edge to it, a garage-band, late-night jam feel. “Klump” and “The Son” recall the lo-fi vibe of Sebadoh, down to their wispy lead vocals, with “Klump” adding a borderline bluegrass tone beneath the more straight-on rock. “Hvarf-12” shuffles out its blurry-eyed, 2 a.m. shoegaze beat over wobbling tremolo guitars. An underlying drone offers a static-buzz baseline. And whether you speak the language or not, the charming lilt of “Raekjuhals” will stick in your head. With its mandolin and chimes, it’s like a musical smile, and it just infuses you with a dose of feel-good. On the ambient side, that first wash of drone, “A Personal Voyage to Meat Planet” (which is a great title), lays the foundation for the other tracks of its kind. It’s deep and warm, fuzzed out and hissing quietly in your ears. I was surprised to look over, out of my light hypnotic haze, and discover that it’s just three minutes long. It’s a time-stretcher. “Passage” takes the same route, adding in a slightly rougher texture and more distinct sense of movement. It’s shadowy without being dark, with a wonderful tentative sense hiding in the sound. The closer, “Wait,” ups the hold-your-breath ante. This is a very deep drone, quite mechanical, peppered in spots with the call and clatter of distant chimes.

It’s the blend of styles, obviously, that gives Prammi such unique character. And the thing is, I would listen to a full disc of either side of the equation. The post-rock lifts my spirits and satisfies the old indie rock guy in me, and the drone work is good food for my ambient soul. So it’s a win-win. You need to check out Stafrænn Hákon’s Prammi.

BEACH SLOTH

Stafrænn Hákon’s ‘Prammi’ is divided into two equal parts. The first part is based around relatively sweet ambient pieces. Much of the album is made up of these moments. For the second half though ‘Prammi’ is indie rock wrapped inside a blanket. Each one of these songs conveys a strong sense of warmth. Vocals are generally not necessary. Without saying a word Prammi manages to convey a great deal through affectionate tones and textures. Every time vocals do appear it simply adds another texture more than creates a distraction. These are songs to get wrapped up in as opposed to simply existing as background music. ‘Klump’ is an early triumph in the album. A nice steady beat and guitars it is particularly effective in creating a sense of true comfort. Eventually it bursts out into a big beautiful thing. This is perhaps the most ‘rock’ that ‘Prammi’ gets throughout most of the disc, even indulging in some heavier sound. ‘A Personal Voyage to Meat Planet’ is the calmest track on the whole album. Less about melody, this song is more about a dreamlike state. While there are multiple ambient interludes placed throughout the album, this one is the best one. By the end there is the sweet ‘Lusher’ and the twee ‘Rækjuháls’ the latter of which references earlier elements in the album. One of
the key benefits of the album altogether is the strong sense of unity. Sonically it is a consistent album. Whether Stafrænn Hákon is focusing on an
ambient or more active song the result is a coherent whole of an album.

VISIR.IS

Stafrænn Hákon er tónlistarsjálf Ólafs Josephssonar sem hefur fengist við tónlist síðan seint árið 1999, en segja má að hann hafi verið hluti þeirrar “lo-fi”-hreyfingar sem var áberandi á Íslandi um síðustu aldamót. Ætla mætti að Stafrænn Hákon sé farinn að kunna vel til verka með slíka reynslu á bakinu, og það er einnig raunin.

Prammi er sjöunda breiðskífa Stafræns Hákons og er hún tekin upp í heimahúsi með aðstoð vina og vandamanna – sem á reyndar við um flest af efni listamannsins. Hljóðheimur plötunnar byggir á elektróskotnu “lo-fi” indírokki með smá skammti af ambient og annarri tilraunamennsku. Prammi nær fyrirtaks flugi á þeim lögum þar sem söngur og raddanir fá að njóta sín (Klump, The Son, Hoff). Rækjuháls er að öðrum ólöstuðum besta lag plötunnar og er það eina sem sungið er á íslensku. Textinn, sem fjallar um afbrigðilegar matarvenjur, er bráðfyndinn.

Aðgengilegustu lögin án söngs renna einnig ágætlega niður og þá er rétt að hrósa góðum trommuleik í Hvarfi 12. Upptökurnar eru heimilislegar og blátt áfram, án þess að hægt sé að kvarta yfir nokkrum viðvaningshætti. Að heyra strengjahljóðin í gripaskiptingum er í rauninni plús, ef eitthvað er, og hæfir hljóðheiminum fullkomlega.

Prammi er ekki gallalaus plata en engu að síður góður og gildur fulltrúi íslenskrar indítónlistar. Hönnun umslagsins er einnig mjög indí, einungis plastvasi og blað með ljósmynd. Ef til vill hefði verið heppilegra að leggja aðeins meira í umbúðirnar, en það er kannski svipað og að kvarta yfir að frönskurnar komi með kartöflukryddi – þegar þig langaði í raun bara í salt. Franskar eru samt franskar og svona er lífið bara stundum.
Niðurstaða:
Prammi lætur lítið yfir sér en er fín viðbót í flóru íslenskrar indítónlistar.