Review Summary: It won’t take long and you’ll kite into another world.
I can imagine how many lists of artists you must have scrolled past to have even heard of Rökkurró. One glance at the artwork for their second album “Í annan heim,” and the band promises a world unknown, a world of open starry night skies and cool gentle zephyrs as you’d sail above all that could ever concern you. Indeed, Rökkurró delivers on this promise. “Í annan heim” offers deep, ever-changing soundscapes built up from basic yet heart-wrenching instrumentation. It is uncomplicated and fantastic, the way the band refuses to allow their music to take predictable turns and throw in something new and entirely unexpected to the mix.
The album soars in with distant vocals and captures you within the atmospheric setting it builds upon. The lead singer’s ethereal falsetto pops in as brush drums and tremolo picked guitars ringing through for most of the time. The language (it’s Icelandic) no longer feels as a barrier once the dreaminess of the production unravels onto you. An occasional synth might fill in between empty moments in songs, but the simple guitar, drums and violin maintain a light, sleepy and brooding aura throughout. I appreciate the quality of musicianship shown by the band as every song holds up an unheard side of their tone whilst maintaining, alongside Hildur’s bubbling whispers, that distant longing for a different realm.
Occasionally the music drifts off a little from the overall lightheartedness as tension mounts up in songs such as “Sjónarspil” and “Fjall”, especially with the former standing out due to its cathartic choruses. The album feels a bit enigmatic as it progresses, as the music becomes more anxious and the vocals edge off towards isolation. The happier momentum set up from the first half is channeled through equally brilliant yet darker tunes that culminate into the gorgeous closer, “Svanur”. A melancholic piano seeps through, and soon enough the entire band pitches in with choirs and violins as the piano rolls out wistful arpeggios. And it all loops back to the airy vocals as the delicate, mystic atmosphere flies off.
Rökkurró might not be the easiest to swallow because of their language, the omnipresent falsetto and their persistent attempts to meander melodies away from where you’d imagine them heading. Yet it is this very otherworldliness that is so utterly remarkable about them, and will warrant repeated listens. Expect young, dreamy music that will breeze right through you, flirting with you but refusing to stay. It is, assuredly, “In Another World.”