Leaving the rooted flora of his previous album(s) behind, Sin Fang glides into uncharted territory with his fourth full-length entitled "Spaceland" – a collection of electrified tunes that pack a soft punch and some invisible bling. It's his idiosyncratic take on future r&b, one that doesn't mince matters and features various guests including Jónsi, Sóley, Pascal Pinon's Jófríður Ákadóttir and Farao.
A deeply personal and 100% contemporary take on electronic pop, "Spaceland" is more Southern Fried than Tropic of Cancer: Recorded between L.A. and Reykjavík, it's an album that feels like diary entries spelled out like Billboard news headlines.
But it's also a self-therapy made strangely infectious thanks to entirely new production means: Dark lyrics over electrified euphoria, personal confessions set to sizzling hi-hats and heavy bass action. "I wrote most of the lyrics after I started having panic attacks," he explains, adding that the album title actually refers to the headspace he was in during that period when he felt like he "was dying all the time".
Mostly written on the piano, entirely self-recorded and self-produced (with support from Jónsi & Alex), Sin Fang thus ventures further into the direction he took with his new project Gangly and unleashes something both banging and feather-light – a combination he already presents in dreamlike album opener "Candyland". The same kind of push-and-pull, the same r&b-paced phrasings, a similar kind of juxtaposition is at work in "Not Ready For Your Love", a line Sindri repeats over and over, all sweet-voiced surrender set to uplifting arrangements and synthetic fields of bliss.
A tale of non-belonging, "Lost Girl" oscillates between minimalism and experimentalism, magma-paced introspection and sonic sunlight that belies the darkness, when Sindri jumps to the dance-floor. As for the vocal harmonies of "I Want You To Know": That's classic Sin Fang meets goose bumps like "Cry Me A River". Former Seabear band-mate Sóley is at his side for another slice of epic (anti migraine) pop ("Never Let Me Go"), while Norwegian singer Farao is another female sidekick in the land of loops and swathes: Drawing a face in the melting snow for "Please Don't", he picks up the pace with a hubbub of voices over a glacier-like arrangement. Towards the end, there's more playful beats ("Branches"), more open space ("Snowblind"), and finally, a homecoming of sorts: Slow moving album closer "Down" feat JFDR (that's Jófríður Ákadóttir) sounds like rays of hope rediscovered.
Drifting too far away from the sun, it can get mighty cold out (and in) there, gloomy and cold, and yet that free-floating state of zero gravity can also lead to entirely new places. Sin Fang was there – and now he's back with "Spaceland".
There's definitely something special in music from Iceland... it's always highly creative, usually unusual, and sometimes even plain weird - but in a positive sense. This applies to singer-songwriter Sóley Stefánsdóttir, too. Her songs are quite accessible in a way, but always with a surprising twist that's typical for music from this country in the far North. Sven B. Schreiber