When I’ve heard Ambátt for the first time, I knew it won’t be just another Icelandic project. The title track stimulated my imagination. Flugufen had it all – postrock dramaturgy, dark climate, guitar, trumpet… I was simply fascinated and I was looking forward for the whole album. I just wanted more tracks like the first one! And when I finally got the album… I was hardly surprised. The first listening to the album just put me off my stroke. The other tracks weren’t like I thought they would sound like… But now, when I’ve already heard the album for several times I’m sure that this is the one of the best Icelandic albums released in 2016. Pan Thorarensen and Þorkell Atlason are outstanding artists that don’t make clichés. They didn’t take the easy way, and that’s why the whole album just couldn’t be like the first track.
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Þorkell Atlason is a classically trained guitarist and composer. He’s been active in the experimental music scene in Reykjavik. Pan Thorarensen has made a history in Icelandic music scene having released many albums and side projects in the past 12 years and is well known and respected for his works. He’s also promoter and co founder of Extreme Chill. We also could see him playing live in Poland at New Neighborhoods in Warsaw.
I think it is important to state that although the album is signed as Ambátt – the duo project of Pan and Þorkell – there are also other musicians that appears on the record. Benjamín Bent Arnason on the drums, Sebastian Studnitzky played the trumpet and Katrína Mogensen from Mammut appeared on vocals. As I’ve already mentioned the opening track is a title track – Flugufen – with amazing climate and postrock character. It also has brilliant trumpet solo played by Sebastian Studnitzky (who is German and took a part in a lot of jazz projects, great Mezzoforte for example). The following tracks gathers all that’s best from jazz, ambient, electronica and postrock. It’s a fusion of various genres and sometimes one of them takes the advantage. The second track from the album is called Kóðá and it’s strongly embedded on the rythm section, powered by Þorkells guitar. That guitar makes all the songs consistent and gives them unique sound. Through the jazz-postrock fusion in Svefney we’re get to Augnlækur, which is more into ambient and electronica. The fifth track – Brenningur is the only song with vocals. And it’s very recognizable voice of Katrina from Mammut. She’s perfectly fitting into the Ambátt climate. Brenningur is a strong one (it doesn’t mean it sounds hard), full of anxiety and dramaturgy. It also breaks the chillout mood of the album for a few minutes. Then it comes Undirtún with trumpet improvisation and jazz-like pitch switching. The last track on the over 30 minutes long album is Lognheimar. It’s full of electronica colors and soundscapes, really calm and melancholic one.
To sum up, Flugufen is really great album that mixes a lot of different climates. Pan and Þorkell explores various boundaries of different music styles, with emphasis on structure and form. It’s multilayered and multidimensional record. Absorbing from the first tone, but the more you’re listening to it the better and better it sounds. You might be also surprised how easylistening it is. Ofcourse you can completely focus on the album and it’s great, but it also sounds fantastic as a background music filling your space in the evening and makes you feel relaxed.
The album was released on the 1st of November through Extreme Chill. All the tracks has been written, produced and recorded by Þorkell Atlason and Pan Thorarensen (Svefney written with Óskar Thorarensen and Brenningur written with Katrína Mogensen). Mix and master Finnur Hákonarson and the cover photography by Ómar Sverrisson.