Stafrænn Hákon Sanitas

Considering Stafrænn Hákon also hail from Iceland, it would be incredibly easy to make the almost inevitable Sigur Rós comparisons because of the post-rock tendencies they've demonstrated in the past. But Sanitas is a much more complicated album than that, pulling the band in all kinds of interesting new directions. It most likely has something to do with the fact that the band have evolved from the solo project of "lafur Josephsson to a close collaboration with Samuel White, although there are other musicians along for the ride. That means the lo-fi days are long gone and there is a level of polish and a less complicated take on rock music that's more organic than electronic. The album uses a wide canvas to paint wonderfully atmospheric pictures; the band call it "power ambient," but the downbeat, meandering songs also bring in elements from shoegazing, accessible pop and even the aforementioned post-rock. Using three different guest vocalists does mean that the album sounds somewhat disjointed, with the deep tones of Minro Eggersman proving to be the most rewarding. The ironic thing is that the quiet instrumental tracks that brought Stafrænn Hákon to where they are today are the least successful element of Sanitas. Josephsson and company have outgrown even the label they attach to their music and this new path is a much more intriguing one, making them the most interesting band from Iceland at the moment. (Darla)