Published January 8, 2017
From Behind The Godhead Of The Synth Stack
Hannah Jane Cohen
Hatari has one song on the internet. That’s right, one song. Yet, the band has taken the underground scene of Reykjavík by storm. This one song—”Ódýr”—was played through shitty MacBook speakers at the pre-game I was at for Halloween, and again at the afterparty. Since, I’ve heard it blasted by all types: goths, black metal fans, techno-heads, even a few cool hipsters. That’s how versatile their music is. This isn’t your average, uh, cybergoth-thing-act.
The band is the lovechild of Klemens Hannigan, Matthías Tryggvi Haraldson, and Einar Stéfansson. This year they played five shows before their domination at Airwaves: once in Reykjavík, then Eistnaflug, then LungA Festival and finally Norðanpaunk. That’s right. Our best live band only started playing live this year.
If you’ve never seen them live, the whole thing is a bit Bioshock. They wear steampunk outfits and command a sort of ritual-esque atmosphere. But with each twisted, bitter scream, Hatari spews digital fire and brimstone unto their audience; an apocalyptic cavalcade of fragmented beats betwixt broken, blazing horns. This dark outfit doesn’t just catch attention—they commanded it, ripping each and every solipsistic spider from the blackest corners of the soul. This may not be a band you would listen to at home—for obvious reasons—but from behind the godhead of the synth stack, shrouded in red, pixelated mist, Hatari call for blood and we’re more than happy to oblige.
An 8-bit shadow springs forth from the ashes of 2016 in small, square shades, a crew cut, and an overcoat, bellowing each syllable in a brooding baritone. Each set is a nihilistic Nuremberg rally, a charge into the millennial void, and you are given no choice but to follow them into the dust. If you can find them, that is—their brutality is matched only by their mystery. Erratic performers though they might be, these shady, anonymous canaries are conspiring to bomb the coal mine this year—we hope this award will appease them before they take the rest of us down with them.
Seal of Approval
Hatari are the kind of band you’d find playing in a creepy room down by the harbour. At least, that’s where I first saw them play in November during the Reykjavík underground’s response to Airwaves: a two-day goth party down on Grandi. I had arrived late and managed to catch the two previous sets—a black metal band and an electro duo. Hatari seemed to keep strange company—they weren’t dressed like the black denim-clad audience, and they weren’t wearing corpsepaint like the band prior either. That’s not to say they didn’t fit in—on the contrary, they immediately took charge of the room with apocalyptic fervour. Perhaps Hatari are speaking to the same darkness as a black metal band—their sound was brutal, unforgiving even—but their set defied all convention or grouping. A double encore led us down a rabbit hole longer and deeper than the veins threatening to burst forth from the anonymous singer’s furious brow. Somehow, people were still hooking up during it, and I guess there’s no better seal of approval than a bunch of goths necking to your music at 2am in the dark.
Read about why they won and check out the rest of this year’s winners here!