A Sense of Place: Rift by Hugar

Known as The Land of Fire and Ice, few places contain more wonder per square mile than Iceland. The only part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that rises above sea-level, its central volcanic plateau is constantly erupting. For longtime friends Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson who make up the duo Hugar, there is musical inspiration to be found in the dramatic shifts of the tectonic plates beneath their home country and the breathtaking phenomena that ensues. Their new album Rift is specifically inspired by the fault running through Þingvellir (Thingvellir), the national park located 40 kilometers northeast of the Reykjavík by the river Öxará.

As they describe it, the band wanted to use their music to explore what happens “when you pull things apart”. Viewed in this light, the symbolism of the volcanic landscape that surrounds them becomes clear. Craters and fissures are torn in the earth, but into the voids they leave flows molten rock that forms a new terrain that will eventually see new growth. It is a process not of destruction, but of transformation, a metaphor for the birth of new beginnings – the rift “as a source of creativity, and a life-giving force”.

There’s something almost magical about a powerful force literally ripping the land apart, and new life appearing in the space that’s created

Bergur Þórisson

Rift is a gorgeous, panoramic record – a cinematic vista molded from keyboards, guitars, brass, and synths & percussion. Divided into sixteen songs, it flows like a suite with recurring themes morphing across a musical landscape through Hugar‘s deft manipulation of layers of sound and melody punctuated by the majestic rise of peaking crescendos. It is an ambitious concept, but the band executes it with aplomb from the opening pulse to the last breath of the final coda.

We wanted to translate that scenario onto these great, temporal shifts and upheaval in our world and ask: What happens? There must be something new that grows from them.

Pétur Jónsson

Links: Rift (digital services) | Rift (CD/LP) | Hugar | XXIM Records

Rift is now available on CD and black vinyl LP as well as on major digital platforms via XXIM Records.