In September 2015, I spent a month in Hrísey, Northern Iceland. Known as “the pearl of Eyjafjörður”, Hrísey is home to just over one hundred people, a variety of birds, and stunning mountain scenery. Over the course of the month, I set out to create a vivid and distinct sound map of my time on the remote island. And eat Skyr with wild berries.
Influenced by sound artists such as Kate Carr and Jerry Brotton’s book ‘A History of the World in Twelve Maps’, Hrísey is a subjective and personal take on the sound map; favouring the joys of sonic discovery over static documentation. Using binaural recording and mixing techniques, the project encourages the use of headphones for an intimate and private listening experience.
As primarily a musician in ambient duo Team Morale, I elected to weave musical tones into a number of the field recordings. Through the neoclassical piano of “spring tide” or distorted drones of “abandoned digger”; instrumental additions hope to aurally reflect an emotional resonance with each location. Whilst a number of recordings focus on the stark yet enchanting landscape of Hrísey, human engagement is never far away. Whether through personal recordings (“hall pong”), interviews with the community (“broken glass, faded dreams”) or the faint hum of the ferry; the people of Hrísey are a significant part of the land.
In September, the season changed from endless days to long winter nights. Presently, the islanders also find themselves in a liminal state. Hrísey faces issues concerning small communities around the world: a dwindling population coupled with declining job opportunities. Yet meeting and befriending the locals, headstrong and kind in equal measure, one can only conclude that the island will make it through any hardships.
Like the island from which is takes its name, Hrísey is a project to be explored, to be shared, and, hopefully, returned to. – Team Morale
Listen with headphones as certain aspects are recorded/mixed binaurally: