í allar áttir en samt bara eina is Icelandic for ‘in all directions but still the same’ and it is the title of the latest album release from Freysteinn

Freysteinn describes his album as:

a personal, dissonant, poetic, melodic, original, and provocative. It’s full of stories that take the listener on a journey of unexpected twists and turns, like you’re changing the TV channel, and you don’t know what’s coming next.

‘Bylur’, which according to a non-Google translator means snowstorm, which is exactly what we get between the heads played by saxophonist Helgi R Heiðarsson. The tune starts in a relatively ponderous fashion, spacious recurring phrases with a strong bass line before the free style jazz sound of guitarist Hrafnkell Gauti Sigurðarso slowly starts to develop. With a pulsing beat from drummer Óskar Kjartansson the guitar and sax trade off one another with a mix of free style and melody – the dissonant and melodic mentioned in Freysteinn’s description above.

The album title track begins with a bass and drums intro, the bass very much to the fore with the drummer Óskar Kjartansson sounding like he is playing at a distance. The sax and guitar bring in the melody before the bass and drums continue where they left off on their intro with added guitar sounds. There is an expansive feel to this number that makes sense in terms of the tracks title and the way that the sound is layered. The only translation I can find for ‘Brotsjór’ is ‘Breaker’, which starts off with a quick tempo repetitive phrase on the guitar, matched by the sax which then slows everything down to an almost funereal pace. This followed by an ethereal deep sounding bowed bass section before the piece returns to the quicker tempo guitar playing of the opening section. This is one of those tunes of simple complexity that is difficult to write about because it constantly changes on each listen through.

‘Þriðjudagur’ would appear to translate as ‘Tuesday’ and has a delightful opening, bright, light and optimistic sounding: sanguine. In many ways this is the most accessible track on the album so far in terms of folk-like melody and variations in tempo. ‘Samúningur’ has, for me, a relaxed rock-edged feel to it guitarist Hrafnkell Gauti Sigurðarso leading and drummer Óskar Kjartansson adding spacious beats. The tune and tone are mellowed out by the sax of Helgi R Heiðarsson on this thoughtful sounding number. ‘Á milli hluta’ is played over a descending bass line with interjections from sax, guitar, and drums. This gives the number an angular, disjointed jazz fusion sound with an emphasis on fusion.

Freysteinn has created an album that is both daring and, at times, beautiful. Listeners can expect to be taken on a journey through Freysteinn’s mind, experiencing his personal struggles and joys through his evocative music. The album is challenging listening but there are rewards to be had, there are moments of poetic and melodic beauty among the sometimes brutalist soundscapes: seek and thy shall find.

í allar áttir en samt bara eina is available as a digital download through Bandcamp from 29th April.

Musicians: Freysteinn – double bass; Hrafnkell Gauti Sigurðarso – guitar; Helgi R Heiðarsson – tenor saxophone; Óskar Kjartansson – drums.

Tracklist: 1. Bylur (06:56). 2. Í allar áttir en samt bara eina (06:15). 3. Brotsjór (06:00). 4. Þriðjudagur (09:47). 5. Samúningur (06:23). 6. Á milli hluta (04:24).

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