Monday, June 16, 2008
With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly
i'm listening to the new Sigur Ros album, "Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust" which is streaming here but you need to go out and buy this album right now. i wrote about their new single "Gobbledigook" a few weeks ago. but it just keeps getting better. Sigur Ros are one of the reasons that I've always wanted to go to Iceland, because a country that is capable of producing such epically intimate sounds has got to be the best place on earth. this is the sort of music that makes all the bad stuff worth it.
the album title translates "with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly" which rings true for every music fanatic who goes to gigs and refuses to wear earplugs and then listens to their ipod on the way home. one of my best Sigur Ros memories is catching the train home from seeing Bloc Party at the Hordern Pavillion last year. i was bruised and exhausted and pissed off, but when i put on "Saeglopur" (one of my favourite songs ever), everything melted away. the idea that music is endless is fantastic. listening to Sigur Ros is an experience that simultaneously separates and glues you to the world.
i don't really like writing about music like this because it comes off sounding very very very very very wanky, but this is a band that you need to listen to, because they will make you believe in beauty and hope again. this is music for sunrises and sunsets and rainy days and sunday afternoons. this is music to listen to as your plane flies you somewhere new or somewhere old. this is music for being stoned to, music for sobriety and absolute drunkenness. this is a soundtrack to life, this is music that will change your life. it will make you slow down and appreciate things, it will make you want to try new things. Sigur Ros are considered one of indie music's 'best kept secrets' but i think that's elitist bullshit. this is music for families and soloists. this is the stuff of dreams, and if all this ranting hasn't convinced you to go and listen to them yet then you must be made of stone. just take five minutes with this band, and i dare you to tell me that your heart didn't quicken, your breath wasn't stolen.
and even if they don't change your life, they'll at least make your day different.
think i may be getting a cold, which is annoying. i feel all sluggish and clogged up. not fun. went to Hampstead Heath today and had breakfast at Ken Wood. felt like i was in a Jane Austen novel, sadly no appearance of Mr Darcy. lots of dogs however, including a family with three (THREE!!) Airedales, all off their leashes and behaving beautifully. very different to my own airedale Spike. i've seen a lot of airedales around (well. five.) and they all have this familiar mad gleam in their eyes that says "yes, i'm behaving, but only because you're watching me. the minute your back is turned i'm going to roll in the mud and jump on your bed" also saw lots of toy dogs which aren't really dogs, just animated balls of fluff. i could easily live in Hampstead. except for the fact that some of the houses go for over £8 million. and also its very snobby. very very very snobby. but the Heath is beautiful. you can see all of London from it, and it's interesting, the way London seems very big but isn't really a sky scraper city. it's just sprawling.
yesterday i did Portobello Markets. got to see where Greer used to hold court. the markets themselves are like Glebe or Paddington, except with added crush. i looked at a skirt for a while until i realised that the reason it looked familiar is because it's maddywatts' pop art skirt that she got in the markets in Sydney. so much for originality. nearly bought a Gordon's Gin handbag but the zip on it was broken and the guy wants $25 for it. not happening. bought lunch and ate it in Hyde Park, before polishing off Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which was fantastic and insane and brilliantly written. when i've got my head unfuzzed i'll review it properly.
in the evening Hazel and i went to a concert at Wigmore Hall which was very posh. performing were Fenella Barton (no relation to me) on violin and Simone Dinnerstein on piano. They played Bach's Sonata in C minor BWV 1017, Beethoven's Sonata in A major Op.47 "Kreutzer", Philip Lasser's "Chaconne Variations for violin and piano" (which was a world premiere!) and Schubert's Fantasie Op. post.159 D934. Of all four pieces, my favourite was the Beethoven, which rollicked along tremendously. i'm not a big fan of either instrument, but Dinnerstein plays in such an emotive fashion that i couldn't take my eyes off her. Barton's playing is crisp and defined and together they made for a lively performance. the main gripe i often have with classical music is that there's no interpretation of it, the artists just play the notes on the page. that's not art. when you get a feel for how the artist feels about the piece, when you find yourself exhausted after a fifteen minute performance because you have been so intently focusing on the sound, that's art. and that was last night. i was a bit shocked to be told that Fenella has only recently recovered from acute rheumatoid arthritis. you'd never know it, she's fantastic.
sometimes i come across sounding like a snob, don't i? sorry about that. but i enjoy what i enjoy, and its very rare that i don't want to share things that i enjoy. that's probably why i've never really been accepted by the indie crowd. well, that and i'm not tall enough. or skinny enough.
the sense of humour and post modernism probably don't help that much either.