This is a collection of Icelandic epic and proverbs set to musical poetry by Steindor Andersen, one of the top proponents of the rimur form and a previous collaborator with Sigur Ros. The production comes from Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, a curious explorer of sound best known for his work on Björk's albums. While rimur is essentially a solo vocal form sung at gatherings, the dimensions of the sound are usually done in nonreverberant locations. Hilmarsson took the opportunity of this recording to explore how rimur sounded in large churches, small lofts, and all points in-between. The end result is a bit of a spectrum of vocal quality, from flat to resounding. The songs, themselves, could easily become tedious to an average listener, especially without the advantage of full translations of the epic battles they're representing. Indeed, the album can become rather monotonous from time to time. A few innovations, however, are tossed in toward the end to spice up the experience. A didgeridoo appears as accompaniment in the devotional Haustio nalgast and, in the sea song "Rammislagur," a second rimur chanter doubles a number of lines and adds aspects of counterpoint. Andersen also plays an Irish harp in a pair of songs from the old poet Sigurdur Breidfjord, punctuating works on love and beauty. The overall effect of the album is one of nostalgia and a bit of historical reverence. It's interesting musically, but the poetry, itself, is the real focus of a rimur session. Give this album a listen for the historical and poetic aspects alone, and dig out translations of the poems for a fuller effect.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg