KEXP at Iceland Airwaves, Day 2: Hjálmar

photos by Jim Bennett

Icelandic reggae band Hjálmar combines heavy roots influence with hints of Icelandic folk, atmospheric rock, and synth-ey electronica. No one can claim that Iceland gets a lot of tropical weather, so this was a nice way to fake a little sunshine on a very blustery Icelandic afternoon at the KEX Hostel in Reykjavik. During their set for KEXP’s live broadcast during Iceland Airwaves, Hjálmar opened with “Hvert Sem Eg Fer,” a horn-heavy tune with a relaxed dub beat and warm harmonies. This bright, brassy song, featuring a three-member horn section, got the crowd grooving in their Icelandic sweaters. Who knew wool and reggae would go together so well?

Later in the set, they fell into a super groove with the funk-influenced “Til Pin,” just before getting on a more psychedelic level with their final two songs “Attu Vinur Augnarblik” and “Örar,” which for the latter, Finnish musician Jimi Tenor joined them on sax. (The band is recording an album with Tenor and playing with him for their main show of the festival.)

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