ALBUM REVIEW: Isafjord – Hjartastjaki

Hjartastjaki (Svart) is an almost cinematic experience, as Isafjord create bleak and desolate landscape pictures with their sombre atmospheric music. The duo of Solstafir vocalist Addi Tryggvason and multi-instrumentalist Ragnar Zolberg (Sign) wrote the album while holed up together in an old house, during the depths of an icy winter and using a broken piano to start many of their ideas.  

Isajford literally translates to ‘Fjord of Ice’ and this perfectly fits the soothing nature of the music they have written. ‘Falin Skemmd’ opens the record with floaty soundscapes before a lead guitar noodles while the bass and percussion meander in the background. The vocals are sung in Icelandic and the ethereal brand of Post-Rock on display is reminiscent of Sigur Ros, whilst also touching on the folky edge of some of the more obscure music to come out of Seattle in the nineties, in a smoky Mark Lanegan-esque haze. 

The music can almost feel hymn-like in places, especially on tracks including ‘Heioin’, which are piano based and feature little percussion. And where the contrasting voices of the duo sing in harmony over the subtlety of minimalist guitars leads and sumptuous dub bass-lines. The title track is emotionally soulful, with a piano line that’s similar to that on Trent Reznor’s ‘Hurt’, while ‘Kuldaro’ slowly builds to a climax with some tasty eighties stlye lead guitar work. There are other pockets of impressive soloing throughout the album notably on  ‘Njalssaga’, which starts with some distorted leads and finishes with a flashy Clapton inspired work out. 


‘Fjord of Hope’ stands out as the only track to be sung in English language, while the record finishes on an undoubted high with ‘Andvok’, starting with an instrumental section sounding a little something like The XX, before the vocals and drums drop into a sombre folk song, which takes a slightly darker turn as it progresses. This is certainly a niche sound and there are definitely strong hints of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor throughout. Aad fans of those bands as well as of any other laid back and thought provoking purveyors of Post-Rock, will definitely find something to enjoy here.  

Buy the album here:


6 / 10