Hjálmar – “Ferðasót” (2007)

People are generally surprised to learn that Iceland has an above average quality reggae scene. After all, the style is associated with a warm semi-tropical island, not a cold moss-covered one. Is there something about the style that speaks to the islander experience? I don’t know.

Before the recent wave of Icelandic reggae being led by bands such as Ojba Rasta, AmabAdamA, and RVK Soundsystem, there was Hjálmar. Formed in Keflavík in 2004 the band released a string of successful albums through the 2000s, many of which are considered all-time classics in Iceland.

Ferðasót, released in 2007, was the band’s third full-length album. I was fortunate enough to run across a fantastic quality copy on eBay the other day for a more-than-reasonable ten bucks, so there was no way I could pass it up. I hadn’t listened to them much over the years other than their 2013 album with Jim Tenor, the heavy Dub of Doom, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. And I have to say… it doesn’t sound very reggae to my ears. There are some elements here and there, but overall it has more of a folk or world feel to it. “Nú Er Lag” is about as close as we get to traditional reggae.