Sunday, 9 October 2011

For a Minor Reflection - Höldum í átt að óreiðu

This is the second album by Icelandic post-rock quartet For a Minor Reflection. They are essentially an instrumental rock band with great similarities with 90s period Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky. They supported fellow Icelanders Sigur Ros on tour in 2007/8, and rushed to record an album so they could sell it at these European gigs with Sigur Ros to gain attention. That album was very unique, it had many of the post-rock textures but had that overall rawness which some albums in the field don't have. Some of the tracks were left without editing due to the time restraints, leaving huge room for improvement on this follow up titled Höldum í átt að óreiðu.

The opener, "Kastljós" is a tremendous start to the album, it's very explosive in terms of style. The hard hitting drums and reversed reverb play a huge part in For a Minor Reflection's sound, it's something to look out for. It's not long until you loose yourself in a wall of sound created with many effects which lead guitarist Kjartan Holm uses respectively. 

The following track is a soft, piano piece. With some string work and light ambient driven reverb noises played loud on the amp. This track is short, but creates the atmosphere for the rest of the album and the next track "Flóð". This track has more focus on guitar and the piano is again featured as a highlight. This is something that was absent in For a Minor Reflection's debut album. This song builds up, much alike many songs on the album. It has nice little sections with low frequency bass and high notes on the piano. Then ends with recorded vocals of kids playing outside the studio where the band recorded the album, which is also the studio which Sigur Ros have used since ( ).

"Dansi Dans" is a brighter track with a recurring piano riff which improves and raises as the track progresses, with interesting strings and a soaring Bass line. It ends well with some very unique drumming and increased noise drones. This is one of few tracks heard through YouTube, prior to this albums release.

The album doesn't have any weak tracks, some are styled in certain ways for emotion such as with "Tómarúm", another piano based track with a real focus on strings. Then "Átta", which is very raw and heavy. It's by far the most energetic song on the album, with visible bass and high notes being playing on the electric guitar. It's split up with an intro, then a general progression pattern which plays out the rest of the track with a nice little build up and thunderous ecliptic ending which is borderline shoegaze.

"A Moll", is by far the most beautiful track on Höldum í átt að óreiðu. Again it has a real focus on piano, it's one huge build up which eventually leads into a hard hitting track much like "Átta", just with a real emphasis on piano, which does sound remarkably good for a low budget recording. It creates a lovely atmosphere, giving the listener visions of Icelandic landscapes and grey skies.

One of the highlights for me is the 14 minute "Sjáumst Í Virginíu". This track uses the delay and reverb on the guitar, which sounds as basic as can be. it's nice on the ear, with light percussion and a hint of delicate soundscapes. The song builds up as expected, much differently to the other tracks due to the slow nature of the song and eventual breakdown. At this point everything has changed musically except the general pattern. It has a few changes as the track progresses, with some nice drumming and even better guitar playing than previously heard. 

So this is an improvement on the 2007 debut album due to song structures and impressive, improved musicianship. When listening to this, it's not hard to forget that the band is unsigned, you can hear some massive flaws in the production. The recording took far longer than the bands debut, but it still doesn't have a clear production sound. They can only improve with time and this band will certainly be mentioned alongside Sigur Ros in the future.
~Eddie Gibson


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