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Symphonic Prog • Iceland

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Eik biography
One of the highest regarded symphonic bands from Iceland. Surprisingly, there is little information available about them.

The membership was consistent with Magnus Finnur Johannsson on flute and vocals, Thorsteinn Magnusson on guitar, mini moog and vocals, Petur Hjaltested on keyboards, Asgeir Oskarsson on drums, Haraldur Thorsteinsson on bass, percussion and vocals, and ryggvi Julius Hubner on guitar, percussion and vocals.

Their career started in 1971, and lasted till 1978. In that time they only managed to release two albums, 1976's "Spelgun" and 1977's "Hrislan Og Straumurinn"

They have a predominantly symphonic style, with elements of rock, blues, jazz, and even a bit of funk. Very much in the school of their '70's contemporaries, but infused with the essence of Iceland.

Their closest relative would probably be Finland's Wigwam. Other influences are the usual suspects, Yes, Camel, and some Kansas.

H.T. Riekels (bhikkhu)

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2.19 | 10 ratings
3.99 | 30 ratings
Hrislan Og Straumurinn

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EIK Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hrislan Og Straumurinn  by EIK album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.99 | 30 ratings

Hrislan Og Straumurinn
Eik Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Eik is one of the best progressive rock bands ever came from Iceland with a short career lasted 7 years from 1971 until they disbanded in spring 1978. They offer two albums, the second one being the best, released in 1977 named Hrislan Og Straumurinn or in english The twig and the stream issued on CD at small label from Iceland named Spor. Well, this is a great album full of beautiful parts, going from symphonic prog to space/avant moments, few but exists like on Diskosnudurinn aka The disk jockey very much with a Zappa or Laser Pace sound. The opening track , the title track is excellent showing that Eik was a very promissing band but never manage to survive in prog scene from diffrent motives. Nearly 15 min of excellent playing, very good are the moog parts, what else a total winner piece. The rest of the tracks are shorter all are under 5 min, but this is not a problem, Eik manage to capture in each piece the essent of prog with nice flute arrangements, like on Eitthva­ almennilegt - Something diffrent has some great energic drum parts, top notch keybords and complex arrangements, brilliant, in the most relaxed and smoother moments Eik is very similar with Camel, those unforgetable elegant passges Camel done in the ;70's. The instrumental F˙nk is another highlight from the album, with as title siggested with a funk toch over progressive parts, groovy bass lines, tempo changes, superb playing over all. In the end a very worthy album for all prog lovers, this is almost a lost gem with plenty of great moments, no weak parts, only memorable passages. Eik and specially this album is one of the best releases ever came from Iceland, worth to be discovered by many listners as possible. 4 stars easy, intresting cover art, the booklet of the CD has a brief history and a picture of the band and aswell lyrics. Recommended.
 Speglun by EIK album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.19 | 10 ratings

Eik Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars One of the few progressive rock bands from Iceland,though the country had a decent rock movement back in the 70's.They were formed in 1972 and had quite a rich instrumentation,including moog synths,flutes and percussion among the usual rock instruments.They released a single in 1975 and a year later their debut ''Speglun'' was released on Steinar Records,while they even won the prize of band of the year.

A very uneven work,''Speglun'' opens Side A with the ridiculuous ''Stormy Monday'',a rather well played mix of Funk and Disco,but only suited for a Tom Jones album.''Memories'' is more decent,a smooth folk yet mainstream piece with loads of flutes.''Funky Beat'' is absolutely unlistenable,even worse Funk music than the first track,like if GENTLE GIANT played commercial music.''Lullaby'' starts as a folk ballad before getting into ''Keep on going'',typical Blues Rock with mediocre vocals,but the long instrumental section with organ,flutes and the bluesy guitar is quite good.

Side B consists of two long cuts and it seems like a different band performing. ''Hugssin'' starts as a lighter version of SUPERSISTER with nice interplays between flutes,moog synths and the rhythm section,before getting into folsky Symphonic Prog ala German band EDEN and ends up as a NATIONAL HEALTH/CAMEL tribute with fiery electric piano and driving flutes.The last eponymous track is not actually a complete composition but sounds as a long jam of Blues and Canterbury Jazz with great flutes,synths and decent bluesy/psych guitar work.

This album is exactly on the thin line between the good and the bad.Half of its content is Pop/Disco/Funk-oriented material of no interest,just a waste of time,the other half being good Progressive Rock with strong Blues,Folk and Canterbury overtones.If only 20 minutes of satisfying musicianship out of the 35 are enough for you,then you should go for it.My exact rate is 2.5 stars,unfortunately rounded down due to the limited time of interesting prog content.

 Speglun by EIK album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.19 | 10 ratings

Eik Symphonic Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

2 stars I discovered this album lot of time after having appreciated "Hrislan Og Straumurinn". Unfortunately the two albums don't have anything to do one each other.

The first track was quite a choc. American disco-funky of the 70s. Not bad, really. Something like Doobie Brothers' Long Train Running. Of course nothing progressive here.

"Memories" is a slow country-rock that reminds to the Family, maybe because of the voice quite similar to Roger Chapman. Better than the first. The flute gives it a touch of Canterbury. Surely I like this song more than the first.

The third track is entitled "Funky Beat". Unfortunately it's exactly what the title promises. I can't stand with people shouting "Come on" on the instrumental parts.... However the keyboard solo is remarkable. It has something of Wakeman. I mean the funkyest parts of Journey to the centre of Earth, but it's not enough for me to like this song. It also fades out.

"Lullaby" has a very promising folk intro of acoustic guitar and flute, but after few seconds of silence it becomes "too" folky just to turn into funky again. The voice here has a flavour of Creedence Clearwater Revival. When the flute is back afte 3:30 minutes, it acquires a Canterbury taste but when the guitar replaces the flute, it's almost identical to "Earth and Water song" of Humble Pie. Same chords, same organ and very similar guitar. When the tempo doubles and it's funky again it's absolutely not bad. In few words this track is a patchwork of genres with strong and weak segments.

The B-side opens with "Hugssin". A jazzy track with a total Canterbury flavour. Unfortunately we are in 1976 and they are sounding as Caravan were used to sound in 1969. A bit late. Not bad also this, but nothing special.

Finally, the title track. "Speglun" is between Caravan and Camel. About 8 very enjoyable minutes that are not enough to rate this album 3 stars. Because of its few good moments 2 stars are too few, but we don't have the possibility to rate half stars. Being this a non-essential album I won't round it high. If you are curious abut Eik doing funky you can give it a try. Also the last track partially saves your money, but you can surely find something better.

2.5 stars rounded low

 Hrislan Og Straumurinn  by EIK album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.99 | 30 ratings

Hrislan Og Straumurinn
Eik Symphonic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Fantastic album, one of those lost gems!

Now that Torodd posted an interview with one of the members of this Icelandic band, I remembered I was meaning to write the review of this album for some time ago. This is the second and last album of Eik, a band from Iceland whose legacy can be appreciated nowadays with some of the most important acts from that country. Sadly, they did not release any other album after this one, so their discography counts only a couple of releases.

"Hrislan Og Straumurinn" was released in 1977 with a new line-up, and probably (I say probably because I have not heard their first album) with a different sound. Stealing Tryggvi Hubner's words, this is "a very progressive album, complicated polyrhythms and at times unbelievable virtuosic playing." What better than the word of a guy who was member of this band.

Since I discovered this album I felt enthusiastic because I actually didn't know any progressive band from Iceland, so it was like a new experience to me. Though I don't really know if they incorporated some folk or traditional elements from their country, I can say that their sound is very peculiar.

This record features eight songs and a total time of 35 minutes. It kicks off with the title track which is also the longest one. A 14-minute track that serves as a fantastic introduction to the band's sound. The first moments have some nervous and even dark atmosphere created by piano and keyboard noises. At minute three, percussion appears and gives a new direction to the song. Now the sound is totally from a progressive rock band. It has an excellent bass sound, along with cool guitar and keyboard solos and pretty nice drumming. There is also a beautiful flute appearing in some periods which adds beauty to the song.

After minute six, vocals appear, but since the language is unknown to me I cannot judge lyrics. However, I like the way they put the vocals after that sensational first part of the song. Here the sound is more melodic and soft, there is a lead vocal but also backing ones, and sounds good. The song keeps this structure for a few minutes, and later it suddenly changes to an instrumental song whose passages are spectacularly well composed and played. I really live the bass sound on this track. Later there is another stop and another change, again to the soft part with vocals.

"Eitthvad Almennilegt" starts with weird vocals, but a few seconds later it becomes pretty interesting. The music and rhythm reminds me a bit of Gentle Giant, there are a great guitar and an awesome bass sound. Some short stops and tempo changes. Also notice the keyboard sound which adds a special flavor.

"Diskosnudurinn" is a short track, like an interlude which has some Zappa/Beefheart vocals style. The music has that same style as the previous ones, though this time the song is pretty short to show up their qualities. "I Dvala" has acoustic guitar, some seconds later bass and another guitar join and make a pretty folkish sound. And later electric guitar appears along with vocals. In moments it also reminds me of some 70s Italian bands, they have a similar style in moments. The acoustic guitar riffs are great, worth mentioning.

"Atthagar" starts again with acoustic guitar, but with a different mood. Calm and soft is the first part of this track, while the second one turns faster and provoking, with again a superb bass sound. "Funk" is an interesting instrumental track that has some cool guitars that remind me of Jan Akkerman, the bass lines are splendid along with the drums. The final part is also interesting due to the keyboard sound and those nice guitars.

"Fjoll" opens with Spanish-like acoustic guitar, but immediately after it turns into a nice soft melody. A warm flute sound at half the song which makes it better. And the album finishes with the shortest one "I Stuttu Mali" which is just a one minute outro with nice bass sound as the main character, accompanied with some acoustic guitar as background.

This is a wonderful album which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to explore music from different parts of the world, and for those who simply like progressive rock. My final grade is 4 stars.

Enjoy it!

 Speglun by EIK album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.19 | 10 ratings

Eik Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars I am slightly lost for words here............ How can I describe this album ?

The album starts with a clean cut disco tune. It reminds me a lot about the likes of DAN HARTMAN and CHIC. Not to mention JOHN TRAVOLTA....... Funky stuff. The next song Memories is down the JOE COCKER street. Slow blues in other words with some Canterbury Scene influences (the use of flute). The third song Funky Beat is best described in the title. Funky beat in other words. The fourth song is almost like a FAIRPORT CONVENTION outtake with some Irish jig included. The remaining three songs are jazz meets the Canterbury Scene, Krautrock and the Fusion scene. Symphonic prog ? Not an ounce and not a second. This album feels more like a compilation album than an album by one band or one artist.

The quality is OK. I am not won over by any of the stuff. Both Stormy Monday and Funky Beat is cringe-worthy listening. The last three tracks are good though. Nice, warm jazz/fusion with guitars and organs. But too little, too late.

It is almost impossible to describe this album others than it reflects the 1970s with all it's good and bad things. Collectors only, I am afraid.

2 stars

 Hrislan Og Straumurinn  by EIK album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.99 | 30 ratings

Hrislan Og Straumurinn
Eik Symphonic Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars Some bells put you into a deep and frozen athmosphere where piano and electronic sounds make the tension increase. Then it becomes a little jazzy. Pekka Pohjola would have appreciated this start. When the intro ends and the first track really starts, it reminds to Gong and Gentle Giant, and it's pure progressive. The flute adds a bit of Canterbury. Suddenly the electric guitar start to alternate with the other instruments, and this is only the first track. After about 6 minutes, they start to sing. They have good voices, too (Yes). A 15 minutes piece full of things of that era. There are a lot of influences, Gentle Giant over all, but they are not clones.

The second track (excuse me if I don't paste the track titles, as they are icelandic), has a funky start with slapped bass, then goes into orchestral, with a leading flute. That's Canterbury.

Still funky on the 3rd track, but with a bit of Zappa in the vocals. Very nice.

Classic guitar drives the beginning of the 4th track., but also when it turns into electric, the sound is very clear, without any distorsion. I'm unable to say what the tempo is. This is my favourite track of the album.

Track #5 starts slowly with acoustic guitar and voice then into funk again. An electric guitar riff is the coda. A short piece.

A track whose title is "funk" should be self-explaining, but effectively it reminds me to Soft Machine's Land of Cockayne. The sounds of the guitar are more or less the same.It's more jazzy than funk, anyway, specially in the section driven by flute and Niacin style keyboard.

7th track. Hard to describe. Flamenco guitar in the beginning, easy melody but with variations in the tempo. I've heard something similar only with After Crying. Really remarkable.

The last (short) track is a melodic piece of fretless bass, acoustic guitar and percussions. It's a pity that it's only 1 minute long.

I recommend this album to Canterbury fans, but it's good for everybody.

 Hrislan Og Straumurinn  by EIK album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.99 | 30 ratings

Hrislan Og Straumurinn
Eik Symphonic Prog

Review by laplace
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Not only a record, but a field upon which two definite styles clash in battle! "Hrislan og Straumurinn" plays like a long-lost RPI disc on side A, and switches to compulsive funk-pop for the remainder of its duration. It's an unusual and striking approach, likely to garner your approval and many repeat plays.

The title track starts dauntingly, comparable in peculiarity to King Crimson's "Larks Tongues' in Aspic, part I" if not in ferocity, stirring together some lucid and capricious musical ingredients that are hard to grasp, even when they are repeated. This isn't a section of the record that you'll be able to commit to memory too suddenly! Developing from this point into a lush, lazy progressive ballad, "Hrislan og Straumurinn" suddenly slots in next to names like Premiata Forneria Marconi and Focus in the world of gentle, lovely symphony. Side A is closed by "Eitthva­ Almennilegt" which comes across like a Gentle Giant number circa "Free Hand", with bouncier guitars and a rhythm section that seems to be having even more fun. So far so good.

Side B is different, consisting of shorter, more immediate songs and opening with one based in jazz funk, featuring strange contorted vocals. The Icelandic "Maggot Brain"? Perhaps not, as what follows harks back to the title track in composition, in this case making me think of Crucis (although since I've reviewed their work recently, that was bound to happen) thanks to the unusualness of the song structure. The singing approaches you from all directions, but the star of "═ Dvala" is the guitar player, soloing on electric and acoustic models with equal ease. Over too fast! "┴tthagar" reintroduces almost disco-like funk, although here it shares "space" with tenser-than-Pink Floyd heroic guitar moments. The mood of the track "F˙nk" can be deduced from its title, hopping between carefree, popping basslines and more fusion-styled bridge sections - a lot like a short Herbie Hancock's Headhunter's track with a guest guitarist, with more of a sixties feel. "Fj÷ll" plays out like a quick ital-pop song, with beautiful acoustic guitar playing reflecting in the constant shine of warm electric piano - an instrumental approach that continues to the album's delicate coda, which is a suitable cherry atop the album.

The only problem is that, at 35 minutes of length, the cake is too small; another four minutes' work on each side of the album would allow for some of the small vignettes to grow into songs in their own right, or else allow for the further progression of some of the themes trapped on the album. That's a shame because Eik had the potential to write a masterpiece here. Listen to this album, you'll see what I mean!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Ivan_Melgar_M for the last updates

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