Hugar – Rift: Impressive soundscape of chilly and expansive tones

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Artist: Hugar
Genre: Rock
Label: Sony/Xxim Records

Plaintive, introspective and pondering, Rift – the third studio record from Icelandic duo Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson – is a delicate collection of instrumental post-rock that calls to mind the gentler aspects of 65 Days of Static or a more ornamental Explosions in the Sky. The pair of multi-instrumentalists weave an impressive soundscape of chilly, expansive tones to create the audio equivalent of a snowy mirage.

Rift, meaning to split or to break, seems to address an almost edge of the world landscape; the Reykjavik peninsulas, coves and islands where their studio is located is embodied in musing titles such as “rest”, “mist”, “solaris” and “fall” – all lower-case titles, as though whispering their presence. IV is a mournful, minor piano ballad that somehow evokes both the in-studio pressing of pedals and keys and something vastly more cinematic.

Film scores

Hugar have worked on film scores before, notably on The Vasulka Effect, a documentary on the video-art pioneers Steina and Woody Vasulka, who escaped the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and found refuge in New York City. In March of last year, the pair released a five-track EP based on traditional Icelandic folk songs, passed down in oral tradition.

They don’t shy away from more industrial turns either, with “solaris”, XYZ and “volt” evoking geothermal power stations, and the quiet pulsing of Iceland’s industry.


Best heard in one sitting, Rift is a transportive, thoughtful collection that, although void of lyrical content, forms a captivating narrative.

Andrea Cleary

Andrea Cleary is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in culture