Contemporary music from everywhere

Hugar – Rift

The new year’s first stunner arrives Jan. 21, from Iceland’s Hugar. The duo features multi-instrumentalist Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson. Friends since childhood, their new LP Rift sounds like the product of a team unused to discord.

Jónsson explains the title’s significance.

“In Iceland there is this rift that runs through the whole island,” he says. “We were thinking a lot about this void that appears, and how it creates a ground for new ideas and new beginnings. This powerful force literally ripping the land apart, and new life appearing in the space that’s created.

“We wanted to translate that scenario onto the times we are living today, these temporal shifts and upheaval in our world and ask: What happens? There must be something new that grows from them.”

The album features photographs of Icelandic rocks shot by Jónsson’s great grandfather Ágúst. “They look just like regular rocks, but cut them in half and there’s this new dimension, new shapes. You pull them apart and find something totally different and unexpected. That’s very symbolic of this whole project.”

These 16 tracks are luxurious, almost (but never, ever) to a fault. Their combination of new classical and ambient elements may be unchallenging. But the work is so picturesque, so lovingly crafted that its immediate relatability is all that matters.

Jónsson says the new recordings are a result of collaborative testing and improvisation.

“A lot of it just happens in the flow,” he says. “Improvisation is a good way to tune into the right mindset and find the inspiration that guides you through the next steps. This album saw more experimentation with electronics and unusual sound generators as a source of inspiration as well. So in a way, a good mixture of both.”

Over the years, Þórisson and Jónsson have worked with Björk, Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds and Johann Johannson.

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