Audio Mixer: Alex Somers.
Recording information: Klapparás; Studio Ellingsen.
Arranger: Olafur Björn Olafsson.
Emerging from the shadows as a session musician, Olafur Björn Olafsson, or as he's better known, Obó, releases Innhverfi -- a play on the Icelandic words for suburbs and introvert -- his debut record. There is certainly a common theme with the work of Olafsson and a lot of his Icelandic contemporaries in that they attempt an almost sonic exploration of the vast vacant scenery of rural Iceland, and in places, Innhverfi is no exception. Tracks like "Fyrirbodi" and the album-opening "Uthverfi" are built up with layers of vacant space, field recordings, piano twinkling, and bowed strings. While other tracks like "Svartur Galdur" have similar tones as, dare it be said, early Sigur Rós, this is mainly down to the prominence of the organ sounds and chord progressions, and it's not a surprising fact that Olafsson was himself a part of that band as a touring musician. The sullen baritone vocals throughout the record give you a feeling of nostalgia, even if you can't understand the Icelandic language. They are soft, non-warbling, and almost spoken words at points, but sit alongside the music nicely. The album has many beautiful moments as opposed to the focus being on one standout track, so it's worthwhile spending time listening to it in its entirety. Overall, this is a great effort from a clearly talented man. It shows that it's fine to take the back seat for a while if you are going to release an album as enjoyable and thought-provoking as this. ~ James Pearce