April was a great month for live video releases. After reviewing Sufjan Steven’s release of “Carrie and Lowell Live” and its accompanying video, I finally reserved myself the time to sit down and watch Sigur Ros’s performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, an epic concert filmed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall earlier this month. Coming in at over two hours, the performance is nothing short of an epic journey, but totally worth the commitment for such a hardcore fan of Sigur Ros as myself. After dinner I decided to make myself some tea and dive in.
The first impression from the video is of the Walt Disney Concert Hall itself. It is a venue worthy of such a dynamic and powerful band as Sigur Ros with its cathedral spaciousness and angular presence. Playing with the Philharmonic behind them for the first half of the concert, the three-piece leaves nothing unsaid as they perform songs old and new, the electronics and strings floating in and around each other in a delicate haze. The band contrasts this beauty with tinges of distorted guitar and heavy drums, lending the music the sharp edge that initially skyrocketed the band to stardom. Even the video itself is slightly otherworldly, with a tinge of drift occasionally touching the visuals and adding a sense of ghostliness to the performance, if that weren’t already present from the music itself.
To add to their mystique, Sigur Ros has just issued a mysterious teaser video that spells out the words “Norður Og Niður,” which translates from Icelandic into “north and down” or “go to hell.” You can watch the video below and figure out for yourself its meaning:
The exotic bleakness of Sigur Ros’s music can’t help but remind me of Iceland’s landscape, a place of stark contrast and beauty, of steaming volcanoes and icy monoliths. Such imagery moves me naturally toward the music of ambient label Eilean Recordings, and videos such as this from Monolyth and Cobalt:
The icy expanse of water and the drift of sea and sound help my mind move into an impressionistic place, taking the visuals as they come and trying not to layer meaning on top of them. It’s a difficult task, but oddly satisfying when it’s over, as if your mind finally has had a chance to rest from the emotional journey of another day.
Just released on Vimeo, the latest video from Eilean Recordings features the song 3.25.2016 from Stijn Huwels and Danny Clay and takes us on a journey of ambient drift:
Along with the music of Sigur Ros, these experimental and impersonal videos show a different side of life; one where reality is bendable and based on perception, an argument ever more tangible in the age of instant media and communication. Take a minute and digest these mixes of music and visual poetry.