Blindfold: Blindfold

This eponymous debut finds Reykjavik-based Blindfold (Birgir Hilmarsson aka Biggi from Ampop) sharing with fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós a strong affinity for reverberant guitar atmospherics (the aptly titled “Daze”) as well as slow, stately tempos and hushed vocals (“Sleepless Nights”). In fact, though a few songs include Blindfold's delicate singing, the focal point is primarily guitar. The swelling layers of crystalline six-string shimmer in the grandiose “Nightfall” likewise recall Sigur Rós while a simple yet gorgeous guitar melody unfurls gracefully throughout the stunning “Ofsi”; the album's diverse approach to the instrument references Robert Fripp's razorblade style in “Nightfall” and Ry Cooder's bluesy twang in “Don't Despair.”

An overture of guitar shadings, ride cymbals, and keyboard sparkle initiates the album in lovely manner and mirrors three concluding pieces that recall another celebrated Iceland group. With its harmonium, creaks, and wordless voices, “Lucky Beach Riveria Song” exudes a strong Múm-like melancholy while “Pokubornin” brings the release to an affecting close. While identifiable traces of other artists do surface, Hilmarsson distills them into an often captivating style of textural melancholy that's very much his own.

July 2005