Sometimes you listen to music to have a good time, to sing along, to move to.
Sometimes it’s just plain catchy.
Or maybe it’s more about the people.
Sometimes you listen to something sad because you need to be reminded how sadness can echo back. That you aren’t alone. And that the cavity in your chest can be more than a loss, can be an acoustic space, full.
Or maybe you’re on a train and feel incomplete without it.
I love Sigur Rós differently. I love them for the same reasons I love the orchestra. It is music not to reaffirm myself, but music as art. Individual compositions are explorations of what it means to be human, and their library of existence, an affirmation of humanity. I am not listening as me, but as a person who happens to be me. A person who is living in an atmosphere enriched by the musical talents of others. Musical artistry that adopts within its expansive form, new translations for the things in life we know to be true but cannot voice.
This is not to say it isn’t beautiful to listen to music simply because it makes you feel good, but to appreciate that the varied, and sometimes complex ways in which we listen to music can be as beautiful as the music itself. It’s not clear cut. How I feel about Sigur Rós today is different to how I did, and different yet again to how you feel.
Not going to lie, the concept behind their latest album, route one, is pretty quirky.
According to their Facebook page:
“on the longest day of summer 2016 sigur rós drove the whole way round iceland’s ring road, broadcasting the entire 1332km journey live on youtube. the soundtrack to this “slow tv” adventure was created using generative music software taking the multi-track stems of the sigur rós song ‘óveður’ and endlessly reinventing them to create new and unpredictable musical directions in real time.”
It is a strange concept. Highly experimental. Non-traditional. But I like it.
Life necessitates the creation of new and unpredictable musical directions in real time.
At least the kind of life I want to live does.
And admittedly, sometimes Sigur Rós’ music makes me feel unpleasant emotions like discomfort or fear. Sometimes I feel tense. An unexpected sound will emerge and dissolve, flash into existence in discordance that resists so obviously to the rest of the score and yet somehow still belongs. Sometimes I feel ecstatic with happiness. But mostly I feel soothed, at peace, limitless. I also realise they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, or perhaps I should say, that not everyone likes tea (another strange concept).
The point of it all is that you are listening to abstract themes, told through sound. You are not listening to yourself through song. And in removing whatever you are feeling, to immerse yourself in the kind of music that is grander than you, anything you currently are, you are completely free to explore the depth and spread of your emotional capacity. Limitless across a landscape completely unknown. In an atmosphere removed and yet still belonging.
It is otherworldly.
But really, it is this world.
Featured Image: tree at Heide