Vald Wegan – “Útivera EP” Cassette (2017)

valdweganutiveraWhen I pressed play on my cassette deck for my first listen to Vald Wegan’s new album Útivera EP I had some preconceptions as to what I was going to hear.  Wegan’s style is described as hip hop, and I’ve certainly heard plenty of the rap coming out of Iceland over the last few years, so I expected more of the same.

But that’s not what I got.

Musically Útivera EP provides a somewhat acid jazz feel, though arguably more on the jazz side than anything else.  Bass lines alternate between the standard electro fare and stand-up string bass, and the album even includes a credit for a saxophonist.  Throw in Wegan’s often scat-like delivery and you have something that falls well outside the norm, a true blending of jazz and hip hop reminiscent a bit of Epic Rain, but differing from that outfit in that Útivera EP is even more rooted in pure traditional jazz.

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Wegan’s tracks are short – only one of the eight A side compositions runs longer than three minutes.  And across that landscape we’re treated to some standard hip hop (“Göturapp” feat. Class B), instrumental acid jazz (“Tómarúm”), and the pure otherness that is Wegan’s calling card.  Of these “Örlagavald” is my current favorite, though “Afturganga” probably best captures the feel of the entire Útivera EP experience.

The B side is given over to instrumentals of six of the eight A side tracks, plus a seventh number simply titled “Bonus Beat”.  These are not available with the digital download, nor are they included on the download card that comes with the tape – you have to go old school analog if you want to get your hands on them.

Útivera EP is available for listening on Bandcamp HERE, and you can also purchase the limited edition (of 50) cassette there for just ten bucks.  I find it growing on me each time I play it – it’s definitely an album that rewards repeated listens as it may take you a little time to wrap your head around it.  But if you’re willing to put in a little time, you’ll get the reward.

Hustlers of Culture – “Bump”

hustlersofcultureI didn’t know anything at all about Hustlers of Culture when I picked up this test print of their 1994 12″ Bump.  They’re billed as acid jazz, and maybe that’s apt… but there’s a pretty heavy hip hop feel to it as well.  The record consists of four songs, but two of these are instrumental tracks that immediately follow the version with vocals.  The MC is quick and maintains a fast pace, and the grooves are funky with horn samples. “Rocksteady” and “Nasty” are both solid songs that would fit perfect in the club, whether you were looking to dance or just hang out and drink your cocktail.  “Nasty” has a particularly fast pace and quick beats that make it almost impossible to not move your feet.