Sigur Rós' Live 24 hour Ambient Soundscape, Route One
Iceland’s Sigur Rós takes their ethereal music to an ambient extreme on Route One, a 24-hour Icelandic travelogue of their island home running live on Icelandic TV and streaming on the internet. A car traverses the island’s roadways, a dashboard camera scanning the vast horizons while a eerie, but serene score that makes even Sigur Rós sound like heavy metal plays on. The sound is part Brian Eno Music for Airports, the vocal movements, and part Sigur Ros’ most ephemeral moments. I obviously haven’t heard or seen all 24 hours as it is spooling out as I write, but in the sections I’ve heard, voices dominate the timbral sound palette. That makes sense since it’s based on the elements of a new track called soundtrack based around elements of new song “óveður” which has been put through a generative music program that develops the piece live as teh journey goes on. Vocal tracks run backwards while other voices coil in ghostly choirs. It is beyond beatless, although just as I write that, a slow metallic beat emerges against more electronic sounding drones and glitches. It is a moving landscape, changing all the time. Musique concrète moments emerge as metallic sounds whizz by in slow motion. The visual landscapes thus far are Iceland’s flatlands, long expanses of green fields and lakes with white-capped mountains often looming in the far distance. This is an exercise in maximum ambience akin to Robert Rich’s Somnium and Sleep Concerts, Moby’s Long Ambients 1 and Eno’s most extreme ambient works like Thursday Afternoon. If you have a lot of time to kill today, or just want a visual/aural soundtrack for your day, take a ride on Sigur Rós’ Route One. It’s only 24-hours long and then it’s over. The ignition switch is here.