For my 60th article on Fluid Radio, I’m provided the film and soundtrack to “Outliers Vol.1”. A film about composing a film, on one hand, of inter-disciplinary travel – in this case to Iceland; otherwise a soundtrack – no film re: Iceland would be complete without a raft of accompanying musicians – documented through modern classical, electronic and divergent adventures into combinatory sonic structures.
I first heard the OST on my Gumy headphones, and while not blown away by the quality, this is endemic on first listen to a writer who’s normally reviewing idiosyncratic sequences, over collections of tracks. As time went on, my appetite was whetted, and once I had seen the film to see where the music fitted in, the spectograph was complete…
October 2011 is a cold time, especially for photographers accompanying expediants to Iceland’s countryside. The landscape, traditions and people are references. In these cosmic vignettes lies a propulsion-purpose, worldly phenomena metamorphosed with homeliness to the jurisdictions, and limitations, of travel time. Thirteen composers posit soundtrack; I want to approach this dualistically with filmic events.
Sounds open with a fitting throb of OST bass: Asure’s “A Word For Warmth” activating that ‘propulsion purpose’. The beats are bear-huggingly motored; the timbres resemble Metanoia’s IDM excursions and a hardened pace outlook; the tempo opens a cool vista. A selection of the artists greet each other at the airport chosen, and Patrick Feaster might say, in his “paleospectrophony” concept, whereby annotating visual arts as interconnected to visual records, educing each other from art and science – the shorthand concept for resonations of imagery in cross-contextual artforms; this is inked into mastery reels here.
It certainly doesn’t sound fully Westernised as a soundtrack. There’s magical times in the drums, piano and strings fullsome, curated by Deru, of the wonderful “Straight Speak” on “Idol Tryouts” compilation some years back. Great beauty and irrevocable iciness swells with Iceland’s geographic peninsula, introducing you suitably. Personally I feel the soundtrack is minimized by its sequencing alone – it needs isolatory approach, singular tracks, or additive synthesis to commingle the stereo sound to the headphones sound, so it forms a coherent whole. This is the only “real” downfall of an otherwise excellent aural dichotomy.
There’s a “refractive assuaging” of psychedelic elements for compilations that feature a score of tracks and under, a future-looking idea that permeates much of my thinking for why concept albums mostly work better than releases made up of silence / cadence / silence and back. Think about it: the light gets shined through a prism, or through from the soul, the plates turn over each other, but where does the paleospectrophony end? It ultimately has to end in a specific timeframe, for without sound conceptions of aural phenomena are nothing at all, and 90 minutes is seemingly the maximum one can take of this development. The audio detective’s toolkit also remains a stimulating thing to emote.
The film itself is great, just great: an abundance of narratives, well shot, depicting much of the traditions of the Icelandic lifestyle as it rises to prominence, in the various cadences of the spectacle. The black and white intro fades and the cast credits perk up your attention, as well as emphasise the brittle colour coding of ice and its visuality - is it any wonder, I remember, why there is a higher suicide rate in Siberia? It's an illustrious yet limited palette that tips totals, and names: the lovely Heathered Pearls; the esteemed Ryuichi Sakamoto; the magnificent Goldmund, Keith Keniff's solo piano alias; the ocean deep Loscil - the visuals are strikingly at ennui with the films' infrastructure - as an exploration of the banally fragile, and this metaphor runs, rings and rallies true for the majority of scenes in the Outliers Vol.1 ouevre.
The exploration begins in Rejyavik in Martin’s house, where a group of the photographically minded among the team are staying. “Mentally, we’ve been on this trip for 6 months already” / “It’s a strange feeling setting out from the same place, trying to get together as a crew” states Kim Holterland in the first car scene. Thin shoots fray in the wind; sun beats across a mountain; water splays over a bed of rocks. It’s all beautiful stuff to see, and not in the least bit hackneyed with the knowing the sounds have been brought to life in great synchrony. “This landscape is unlike anything any of us have ever seen”.
“It feels as if our creative ambition and collective spirit act as some kind of emotional glue” Kim says of the webcam / photos on web state of affairs these two photographers share before starting a real life friendship. Certainly, one can draw parallels with how the music and formatting relationship benefits from outside involvement, as much as real life doings benefits from real life interactions from what was originally virtual reality. The internalised dogma to counter-realities as a result of seeing little of what’s outside the base sphere is also touched upon; Tim Navis explains how his Dad was a pilot but would never fly anywhere, “he’d always drive. When you fly you’re just going from point A to point B” – you don’t get to see what light of the refractive assuaging prism arises out of experience that would otherwise be killed by anxiety.
“As long as I’m using my hands in creation and whether it’s for profit or not profit, I’m a pretty happy guy” Navis says. This really puts in perspective the fundamentals of the whole project and its projections. You’re getting to hear about, while an array of stock ideas on the creative life, in a context where you can make use of them for repeated watches. They are delivered with wit, with humility, with care. Not to mention this is the first time I’ve really been able to traduce paleospectrophony – or just music as images extensions – normally I listen to sound as purely sound, and imagine the rest. Ocean waves crash in one image / sound combination, for instance, and give me an opening into synaesthesia.
“Outliers Vol.1” is a special film, and I wouldn’t want to spoil it besides affection, except to quote Holterland once more. “…Something too beautiful and magical to exist without having been created.” This is the best epoch gleaned. You have to act to react, and without reaction, there is no action.