Sunday, March 11, 2012

Valgeir Sigurðsson- "Draumalandið"

So this gorgeous record came out in nearly two years ago now, but it is worth mentioning again. Icelandic composer Valgir Sigurðsson collaborates with Nico Muhly and others on the sountrack to Dreamland. Liner notes come with some words from the movie's director, Andri Snær Magnason, about the film and Sigurðsson's creative process:
From the start I was determined to write poetry, plays, and fiction, but the material began to accumulate in my mind as each day something seemed to be going wrong in Iceland and maybe the planet in general. We should know by now that war is never worth it, but instead our government made the choice to support the war in Iraq. In a way the quality of life in Iceland had never been better but after privatisation of the fisheries and national banksan elite began to take shape -- a small group of people that would own billions and billions.
We wanted to grasp huge issues in this documentary, we travelled around the country in a helicopter, searched in new archives, observed the bird fight for their offspring. We captured footage of politicians and representatives of larger corporations during "mating season". But how would it all sound? What leitmotifs would bring the chapters of the film together, what feeling would the music evoke? What resonates with a Caterpillar digger, a private jet and flying over a beautiful, doomed landscape? It was clear that music needed to span a vast territory-- melancholic strings and deep, sonorous electro-vibes could act as a foreshadowing of impending disaster. Without making the audience feel manipulated, tension needed to be created to underline, to accent, to enhance or temper the film's effect in the appropriate places.
After receiving a copy of the film without sound, Valgeir Sigurðsson watched it in his Greenhouse studio; seeing what would start to take shape in his head. He proceeded to write the basic theme and then summoned to his side musicians like Nico Muhly, Sam Amidon, Ben Frost and other friends of this odd Greenhouse. One could say that the essence of their approach to the score can be found in the Icelandic folksong Grýlukvæði: something is off and it's hard to pinpoint exactly what. There is a distortion, a din and a defamiliarizing quality that is difficult to put into words. Flying over the Fljótsdalur waterfalls that are no longer there, a solitary viola is our guide, and we can sense the threat. The music creates an intense atmosphere when we fly over the sand pyramids on Vatnajökull, in the direction of an areas that is to be destroyed because of a short-term gold rush. The shrill brass tones resonate and contrast the heavy, impenetrable silence.

Soundtrack is embedded below.

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