The first time I heard an Icelandic musician was Björk, when I was in college. The line, "I don't know my future after this weekend, and I don't want to" from Big Time Sensuality, was my unofficial senior spring motto, but her being from Iceland had no significance for me then. After that I didn't think about Icelandic music until I went to a Múm concert in Boston the summer J left Boston. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't associated their sound with this strange treeless land that I was angry at for taking away this guy I'd started to really really like. The audience was also not the kind of crowd I identify with, since the kind of person who would know and like Múm in Boston is a special breed of cooler-than-thou hipster that prefers their music obscure and their jeans faux vintage.
Then I moved to Iceland, and J and I moved to our new place with the huge view, I started learning the language, and something happened. The stuff makes sense to me now, and I can't get enough of it. It's not a good week unless I've listened to the latest by Sigur Rós at least once, preferably loud, preferably watching the changes in the sea and clouds, punctuated by raven flight. The layered and somewhat discordant sound that seems to be the hallmark of Icelandic musicians does illustrate the landscape remarkably well, with its forlorn emptiness, the punctuations of delicate clinging plants, the sloping sunlight, and the take-care-of-yourself-cuz-it-will-not additude.
J and I heard more of it last Friday at our favorite record store, 12 Tónar. They have the occasional Friday afternoon concert where they open a few jugs of cheap wine, fire up the coffee machine, and people of all types gather to listen to whomever happens to be there that day. It was two guys from Múm last week, and as the sounds reverberated on the walls of the tiny space, I once again felt that special brand of melancholy that only Iceland can serve up. It's the same feeling I got the first time I was here and went to the West Fjords, or when I stood next to the dripping edge of Sólheimajökull last year. So many of the things I see here seem to be on the brink of extinction. Will all these tiny villages, these windswept mountains, and melting glaciers survive? Why do so many things feel so much more fragile here than places I lived in the States?
Ship sighting: There is a very romantic sounding fiskiskip named Venus doing the tour of Reykjavík docks today, stopping at three different ones before leaving at midnight. Why so many stops? Other than that, it's the usual suspects of Samskip and Atlansskip cargo ships on the way in and out. I also saw an empty cargo ship leaving the harbor this morning in the midst of the weather front that was happening on both sides of our view this morning (snow on one side, sun on the other)