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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday, Reykjavik House Show: Úlfur Hansson Lighthouse Sound Installation

Grótta Lighthouse Sound Installation

Grótta Lighthouse which is an island at this moment:

Elín Hansdóttir, b. 1980

Úlfur Hansson, b. 1988


Project: Helix

Location: Gróttuviti- lighthouse in Seltjarnarnes

Date: October 12, 2008, 21:30

About the project: Vocal installation in Grótta lighthouse in collaboration with local choir Selkórinn.

The house show wrapped up and we had very little time to get to Úlfur Hansson's lighthouse sound installation--we had to make it to Rökkurró rehearsal soon after that. Karl AKA "The Heir Electric" grabbed a ride with Árni, Hildur, and myself. It becomes very "cozy" in the car when you have 4 people and a cello.

Árni and Hildur actually took me out to the lighthouse earlier in the day when it was light as it is very scenic. It's different from any other lighthouse I have ever seen in a very bizarre and interesting way: at high-tide the lighthouse becomes an island, at low-tide, it is a peninsula and you can simply walk to it.

Satellite image of the lighthouse:

Another view from farther away:

The concept for the lighthouse sound is pretty interesting. There was a choir singing descending pitches so the music always sounded like it was falling but it never really fell.--a gerbil wheel of musical descent. Karl said this reminded him of an electronic music piece that had a similar effect but used falling sine waves. It is a really cool effect.

To even get to the lighthouse you first arrive in the parking lot and you can see the lighthouse off in the distance with a path marked with large flames that show you the way to get to the lighthouse. Following these flames you walk over rocks and seaweed and sand, basically unable to see much of anything. It took about 5 minutes to reach the lighthouse. It was packed--what a great turnout.

The view looking back toward the parking lot and Reykjavik from the lighthouse. You can see the flame outline of the path:

This recording is quite long (19:20) and a lot of that is due to waiting at each of the landings between staircases since there were so many people packed in there. I was expecting a spiral staircase but this lighthouse had floors every ~6m/20ft which were connected by straight staircases. People had to go both ways on the narrow steps which was not easy. And, as you got close to the top, where the choir (and fog machines!) were, it became even more packed with people. At the very top there was a bright light, fog machines, and the choir behind a white sheet covering the highest staircases entry to the next landing.

Looking up at the top of the lighthouse:

The recording includes my descent down the stairs as well all the way until I get outside. This is what it sounds like:

Sound Installation:
(Use Headphones for All Recordings)
Ulfur Hansson Lighthouse Sound Installation - Sequences Festival - Reykjavik, Iceland by BinauralAirwaves
Artist: Úlfur Hansson
Song/Piece: Lighthouse Sound Installation @ Sequences Festival
Microphone Setup: In-Ear Microphones
Master Recording Format: 44.1kHz/24bit

It was very eerie as you ascended in this haze of fog while the descending pitches grew louder and louder. Perhaps this is an allusion to the sensation of vertigo--these contradictory senses of ascending (the lighthouse) and falling (the sung tones of the choir), while you swirl around landings and up the lighthouse stairs, in a haze (fog), but never getting to a destination, only the sound growing more and more intense. Very cool.

Klive is Úlfur Hansson's alter ego under which he makes really cool electronic music (very much different from this sound installation). Here is what Klive's Iceland Airwaves bio says:
Playing a self-devised genre he dubs 'concrete', this tongue in a cheeky-chappy slaps sexy female vocals over abstract electronica. Klive sounds a lot like Aphex Twin and Jackson & His Computer Band.
Look forward to these recordings from Wednesday. I recorded his performace at Hressó with female vocalist (amazing voice) and 4 brass players (who were Björk's brass players). This was a great show. I'll be posting them soon.



Lily and Fox said...

Hey man!
Good to see your posting all the stuff! And thanks for the lovely week you spent with us.

This lighthouse stuff sounds so creepy, just as creepy as it was "live"!

But thanks again for the headphones, really looking forward to start using them as soon as I come home.

Take care,