In the beginning there was Pink Floyd, in 2006 there was a soon to be post rock Icelandic band covering Pink Floyd, and by 2007 that band, For a Minor Reflection, was playing and recording their own material, originally comprised of Kjartan Hólm, Guðfinnur Sveinsson, Elvar Jón Guðmundsson and Jóhannes Ólafsson who was later replaced by Andri Freyr Þorgeirsson. With over 6 years, multiple tours on their own or with the likes of Sigur Ros, FAMR have earned their place as Icelandic post rock veterans.
Their first album, Reistu þig við, sólin er komin á loft…, is self produced. reminiscent of Explosions in the sky or Godspeed You Black Emperor, there is a rawness to the music with two guitars that easily transition from harmonies to performing dueling dances around the drums and bass. “Ókyrrð” is the perfect example of the dance the guitars do on this album. Sometimes almost dueling like a high noon shootout while at other times in paralleled harmony, the song builds up, tears down and slowly brings itself to a boiling endpoint. And though the song is over 12 minutes long, once it begins you really don’t want it to end. It still remains my favorite track of theirs to date.
in 2009 the band lost their drummer to the dreaded land of studies, and Andri Freyr Þorgeirsson Joined them. Their second album, Höldum í átt að óreiðu. was released shortly after in 2010.
Kastljós, the first song on the album introduces us to a newer sound of FAMR. The rawness replaced with fuller sounding guitars and a more equal mix of keys and drums. Where Reistu þig við, sólin er komin á loft’s complexity was found in the tension between the instruments, Höldum í átt að óreiðu’s creates it’s own complexity by intertwining layers that cleverly weave a more smooth journey. The second song, “Fjara”, gives us a clear introduction to the new players in the mix, keyboard and strings.
I think what sets this album apart from it’s kin in the post rock genre, is the hidden up-beatedness of it all. There is a sly happiness within the songs that creeps up on you in the most surprising moments. I suppose I amn’t a strong enough wordsmith, but there are times when I listen to this album that I realize mid song that I’ve cracked a smile and am fighting back the warm and fuzzys. It almost becomes a soundtrack to the triumphant moments of your life, like when you’ve managed to get every last bit out of your yogurt cup. Their second album is an album that stays in my recently played queue quite often. “Fjara” and “Andlega veðurtepptir” happen to be my favorite two songs.
Their third album, the For a Minor Reflection E.P. is a pleasant compromise of their two previous releases. There are exciting and sharp instrumental moments, with plenty of smooth rolling hills. The background ambiance-like samples they use add to the music and neatly tie up the two styles. Oh, and there are horns, Höldum also had horns, but their shiny brass chests are puffed out and beaming so much more on the E.P.
“Recite” is one of my favorite tracks on the E.P. Overall the song gradually builds up to a rock out ending, but in that build up are many tiny jagged moments of sharpness with micro breaks between guitars, keys and horns creating localized ups and downs within a wave like movement that ends in a terrific crash of rocking out.
In December of 2013, the band released a DVD/CD of their live material from Iceland Airwaves. Their live shows are always packed, high energy events. I’ve seen them in the massive halls of Harpa, as well as the tiny hostel lobby of the Loft hostel. here’s a great clip from their website of the DVD/CD release:
You can see them live at ATP Iceland this July, or I’m sure they will be around during Iceland Airwaves. For more info or to purchase their music check out their website or follow them on Facebook. They are another band that does a fantastic job and keeping a thorough Soundcloud page.
Kjartan was nice enough to answer my 4 ridiculous questions:
1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at? Last year it was definitely Hlemmur Square. A new and fun venue to play at.
2. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get? A rainbow!
3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? Lyrika, 1860 and Steindór Andersen + Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson.
4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song? A raccoon playing Total Eclipse of the Heart. (Of course, we knew he’d say that)