Texture is a funny word to use when talking about flat pictures or sound. I use it, though, to help me understand things I can’t touch and why I love music from Iceland.
For the past month, Go Do by Jónsi Birgisson (lead singer of Sigur Rós) has been repeating on my iTunes. The album will be released in April, but I was awarded early with 3 free preview mp3’s for buying a tour ticket. Go Do, like the rest of the songs on the album, is coated with many layers of sound. In this video clip, Jónsi and his producer/boyfriend Alex Somers are in their kitchen adding in percussion with their hands and feet.
Why not just use a bass drum? This video made me think about the first time I played a Sigur Rós song for my mother on a car ride. “So, they sing in Icelandic?” she asked. “No,” I said, “Hopelandic. It’s sort of made up.” “Well, what is he saying?” “The words don’t really mean anything.” That annoyed her. “Then why use words at all?”
Slapping your hands and feet and stomping on a cool, blue suitcase looks like plain fun – like children making noise with what’s around. That includes your voice. In Go Do, electronic technology is used to break up Jónsi’s voice into a syncopated rhythm that compliments the percussion. On top of all this, is his voice harmonizing with itself, emphasizing Jónsi’s unusually wide tenor range. The playful percussion – the slapping and stomping – ground the verses, and the effect is a song that can “run” and “fly”.
Texture in Go Do, videos, movies, photographs, etc, puts faith in memory. It conjures up impressions from my past that help me connect to, and understand what is happening. There is a physical component to the intangible quality of music and photography. In that sense, Go Do is a challenging, beautiful piece of music, with layers of sound that ask me to recall how it felt the last time I stomped on my own adorable blue suit case.
Enjoy the full video:-)