We don’t hear much about Iceland and even less is heard from there. The only news that reaches us these days concerns the state of the Icelandic economy, it’s all about the recession impact, the debts and the protests.
But there’s something missing from all those reports. For example – the almost shamanic drums of those very protesters appearing on the front page of Hljóðmynd – the field recording blog from Iceland, located at http://fieldrecording.net.
It is not only about the protesters of course. Hljóðmynd features a bunch of impressive nature recordings, a number of live recordings, a bit of technical advice, all muffled up with those beautiful Icelandic letters with lots of dashes and umlauts all over. There is not a single English word in Hljóðmynd except for the url addresses.
Hljóðmynd means Sound Image. This is the case when your trusty Google Translate cannot be fully trusted – what it offers is Sound File which makes the difference. But it could serve as a decent tool anyway if you want to break the spell of not knowing and get to know what this recording is all about.
The website is run by an electrician from Reykjavik named Magnus Bergsson. Last week I contacted Magnus and asked him about Hljóðmynd the inspiration behind it. He kindly answered my questions which I’m really grateful for.
Taking up DIY audio as a hobby in the 70s he got carried away with live performances of Icelandic artists. Magnus wasn’t happy with the quality of those recordings he has heard before so he decided to make his own tapes. From the 1983 to 1995 he has recorded a lot of bands from the likes of jazz-funk Mezzoforte to Sugarcubes with not yet world famous Bjork. But most of his time was spent out in a field after finding out that if listened through speakers those nature sounds may act as a cure or as a lullaby or even as a party background.
Magnus says his major interest still lies in nature recordings but living in the capital means less opportunities available for that. He doesn’t drive a car and has no intention to so he doesn’t take his mics out in the field that often escaping the omnipresent traffic noise. But if he has a chance you can be sure it was worth waiting for.
Listening to those recordings it is hard to believe that Icelandic nature is relatively quiet – as Magnus puts it. The island can’t boast about having noisy wild animals or bugs only birds in Spring, but Hljóðmynd manages to yield great results even in such a quiet environment.
One of my favourites recordings is made on Good Friday this year – the chilling snowstorm easily turns your cosy and warm evening with a cup of tea handy into something different.
Published October 15th, 2010.