Published September 17, 2014
I found myself six tracks into Hugar’s self-titled instrumental debut before realizing that the first song had ended. This could mean one of two things: either the lack of lyrical stimulation reaching my brain sent me into an inert mental state, or the neo-classical duo, consisting of producer-instrumentalists Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson, has achieved the type of cohesion that we are so rarely afforded in today’s single-obsessed musical dominion. I choose the former.
The band’s website explains that after “many years in all kinds of different bands,” the two of them started putting together demos in 2012 that eventually became the eleven ambient compositions on the debut. The album’s robust arrangements are composed mainly of strings, guitar, horns (Bergur is a credited trombonist on Gusgus’s 2014 release `Mexico’), and sparse percussion, blossoming into the climactic final track, “Endalok.”
`Hugar’ is a purposeful album for a particular audience. Though the record held my attention throughout its duration, I found myself yearning for more moments of tension and release. Yes you will cook to it, yes you will eat to it, and maybe you’ll even bathe to it. But will you dance to it? Will you drive to it? Maybe not. And maybe it doesn’t matter. This is an album for a specific time and place.