- 2 x LP
- Small Plastic Animals
It seems like an age since Icelandic producer Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson's last album as Yagya, 2020's "Old Dreams and Memories." The first album to be released on his own label Small Plastic Animals it was followed by the four-track "Always Maybe Tomorrow" EP in 2021.
"Faded Photographs" is his ninth studio album, the most involved and time-consuming project to date and collaborative on a scale not seen since 2012's "The Inescapable Decay of My Heart." It also marks an exceptionally confident return to the art of song-writing, but where that earlier album was a more upbeat dub techno-pop affair, "Faded Photographs" is nostalgic, wistful, reflective and steeped in poetic romanticism.
Guðmundsson's love of the art of the album is also more pronounced here than ever before, almost every single track tied together by the particularly unifying use of triplet rhythms in combination with 4/4 beats, beguiling hushed vocals and enveloping, molten dub bass tones. Combined with a typical dedication to sound design and production, "Faded Photographs" is rendered an utterly seamless experience, demanding to be heard as a whole.
Frequent collaborator and breathy tone saxophonist Óskar Guðjónsson returns, crooning just as emotionally on "What Have You Done" as do vocal duet Benoit Pioulard (who also co-writes here) and Bandreas, then later melancholically on the contemplative "The Way You Say My Name" and the closing "My Own Worth." Pablo Hopenhayn also returns to provide yearning strings on the achingly melancholic instrumental opener "The Downpour" and later on the tense duet "The Serpent."
Guðmundsson's own whispered vocals also make a welcome return, often in duet with the mysterious, angelic Bandreas or the silky, intimate Saint Sinner. Helped along by subtle but familiar references to his previous work, like the soft summer rains of "Rigning" or lyrical callbacks in "A Wicked Joke" recalling "Bright Moonlit Sky," all these elements and collaborators become so much a part of the warp and weft of the overall sonic palette they feel omnipresent.
Written and produced when we had become more distant and disconnected from one another than ever before, "Faded Photographs" brings together and showcases an ensemble of artists in a spirit of collaboration that flies in the face of adversity, a true product of its time.