Around 6 months ago I heard of the music of Ásgeir (Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson), the Icelandic singer-songwriter. I first heard his music when it circulated on an email from NoiseTrade, a great email list to be on by the way. I often listened to his freely-available EP, and bought his limited edition triple CD album In The Silence late in 2014.
His Icelandic origins I knew. But I was interested to know where exactly he came from within Iceland, having spent a week exploring the country back in 2009. It turns out he grew up in the tiny village of Laugarbakki, which I remember driving through those years ago.
Around the same time I was getting into Ásgeir's music I was also listening to a lot of Sohn, an English, Vienna-based composer with a great balance of electronic and harmonic acoustic tones. Even though I enjoyed his music well before seeing his Tremors album cover (pictured above) - once I saw it, the cover really resonated with me. I loved the image of a lone silhouette in such a barren, icy landscape walking towards a plume of steam. It just had to be Icelandic...
So, research I did, until I turned up this link providing details of the background to the Sohn album cover, in which it states:
"The artwork for Sohn (Christopher Taylor)'s album, Tremors, features some striking photography shot by Carla Fernandez Andrade near the active volcanic lake Mývatn in Iceland.
"We were drawn to [Carla's] beautifully muted landscapes and the dream-like quality of her images," says Alison Fielding, who designed the artwork with Sohn. "We felt the idea of a solitary enigmatic figure on a manmade road, leading to the dramatic backdrop of the natural environment would work beautifully for a cover."
Mývatn was an extraordinary place which I am incredibly grateful to have had the chance to spend some time. From a diary of the trip I kept the following notes from Friday 3rd April 2009:
"Amazingly, and indicative of what we would go on to see for the remainder of the day, the ground was literally steaming in many places off the side of the road. Snow had been melted, in hot spots of ground which steamed from bare soil patches in the snow.
The most amazing time today was spent at Námafjall, an area of bare, steaming vents, hot flowing streams beneath the snow, and bubbling mud craters. It felt like another planet. We walked around the muddy craters through deep snow – beautiful and completely other-worldly.
Before returning to our guesthouse we managed to negotiate our 4WD through a 40cm deep, 1.2km snow trail to the Dimmuborgir lava fields on the west of Lake Mývatn. We were the only souls in sight in this wild field of strange lava formations. We walked through knee-deep snow and stopped in the middle of the field and just listened. You could hear absolutely nothing. No birds, cars, wind. Nothing but the occasional drip of snow-melt falling onto soft snow. Pure, cold, silence".