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"heima" tour diary

during the 2006 iceland tour the band's manager john best kept a diary, describing the band and crew's experience while touring the country and filming "heima".

day one:
july 24, ólafsvík

small, over-tired children demand to be taken home by their mum’s once the full-on racket of ‘glosoli’ starts to shake the rafters, maybe to return nightmarishly in their troubled sleep later on. some little girls aged maybe seven or eight ponder why the funny man is screaming some “bullshit” they don’t understand. an old woman heads out into the gloaming to escape the mounting heat, only to turn on her heels upon hearing traditional rhyme superstar steindor andersen is about to perform a “rimur” about local fjord, a blush overtaking her cheeks at the very glamour of the idea.

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concert review page: 2006.07.24 ólafsvík

more information about ólafsvík: home page / wikipedia / pictures on flickr.com



day two:
july 25th, selardalur / ísafjörður

we strike land at some wee harbour at the bottom of this sticky out bit of iceland and immediately set off through some of the most amazing landscape many of us have ever seen (including the icelanders) on out way to selárdalur, remotely sited in the very west of the west fjords. selardalur is nationally renowned for a folly-ish collection of buildings built by samuel jonsson in the middle of last century that ape the churches and homesteads of iceland only in about 2/3rds scale.

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day three:
july 26th, ísafjörður

the ísafjörður show turns out to be quite difficult for the band in the crazy small confines of the hall, but is received rousingly well by another collection of the curious and the, well, curious. the undoubted highlight of the evening is the parade during se lest, for which tonight the horny brasstards are joined by the isafjordur town band. the twenty or so players dressed in their royal blue uniforms march from stage left and out through the crowd to a huge ovation.
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on this page you can view this concerts review page. sigur rós also played a concert in ísafjörður on the 17th of july 1999. on the 10th of april 2004 kjartan and orri's side project, the lonesome traveller, played at the "aldrei fór ég suður festival in ísafjörður.

more information about selárdalur: exploreiceland.is / pictures on flickr.com
more information about ísafjörður: home page / wikipedia / pictures on flickr.com



day four:
july 27th, djúpavík

immediately, the amiina girls and jonsi are crawling through a short length of pipe maybe 80cm across into a large circular tank some 15 metres in diameter by 8 metres high (i’m guessing these dimensions). one of several silos standing out the back of the processing plant, this used to contain fish oil and has in its base a kind of oversized kettle element for maintaining the fishy by-product at the right temperature. it looks like something from tarkovsky’s movie stalker where they enter the forbidden zone (great movie, by the way).

today we are recording a version of a song named ‘guitardjamm’, which is just strings, vocals and some filigree touches of guitar, quite at odds with the wig-out implied by the title. the sound in the tank is unbelievably atmospheric and the reverb-laden results to me are redolent of the miasmic soundscapes the early sigur ros created for their debut, ‘von’.

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concert review page: 2006.07.27 djúpavík

more information about djúpavík: home page (plus sigur rós special) / pictures on flickr.com



day five:
july 28th, háls in öxnadalur

once again the sky is azure and the sheer exhilaration of being outside and doing this amazing thing – a free tour of iceland! – makes everyone (well, me at least) feel somewhat elated. we pick through the flatter marshland and straighter roads of the region around varmalid much quicker than on previous days and arrive at the breathtaking sight of hals in oxnadalur in good time. thanks to the fine weather the stage is open to the air with no super-structure to interrupt the dramatic mountain backdrop.
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concert review page: 2006.07.28 háls

pictures on flickr.com



day six:
july 29th, reykjavík

everyone pretty much slumbers all the way back to reykjavik and the only eventful thing i can remember is when we brake sharply to avoid a collision and lukka goes flying from her lying position across the backseat to land the floor without actually waking up.
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day seven:
july 30th, reykjavík

jonsi turns up on his shopper bike from his apartment downtown, while georg parks his caravan round the back of the art museum that will today serve as our dressing room and place where we will later shake hands with the great and the good of reykjavik who have contributed funding to make this unique event financially feasible. i meet the folks from reykjavik city council who put their money where their mouths were, while craig, the word journalist, tells me he’s been introduced to no fewer than half the current cabinet. later, the president himself will turn up, but, despite urging from the band, his first lady will refuse to parade across the stage with the brass band at the climax of ‘se lest’.
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concert review page: 2006.07.30 reykjavík

more information about reykjavík: home page / wikipedia / pictures on flickr.com



day eight:
july 31st, reykjavík & húsafell

today the band leave early for húsafell, home of our friend palli who built the famed “stone marimba” used by the band on the odin’s raven magic orchestral piece. we are going to improvise a piece on the marimba for the film and want to visit palli where he collects the stones with which he makes the instrument. palli’s a talented fellow who walks the lonely valley near his home in the countryside picking up the flat pieces of brittle, shattered rock, balancing them on his finger tips and striking them with a mallet to hear the note they create.

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concert review of the 2002 london premiere of odin's raven magic in which the stone marimba was used. the creator of the marimba, páll guðmundsson, has an icelandic language website here.

more information about húsafell: home page / wikipedia / pictures on flickr.com



day nine:
august 1st, kirkjubæjarklaustur

eventually, steindor and the boys take to the stage with the sometime accompaniment of amiina’s maria to play through the three songs from their rare, tour-only rimur ep. not having heard these songs for a bunch of years, i am struck by just how powerful and moving they are and also how reminiscent of the time in which they were written and recorded. the rimur ep was made alongside the ‘( )’ album and its doomy wintery soundscapes definitely recall ‘e-bow’ and ‘deathsong’ in mood and texture, as well as providing a real tangible link between sigur ros and the icelandic tradition into which they knowingly, and unknowingly, tap.

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more information about kirkjubæjarklaustur: home page / wikipedia / pictures on flickr.com



day ten:
august 2nd, seyðisfjörður

today is mostly spent on the bus since it’s more than 400km to seyðisfjörður and the bus is not that nimble. for the first time the sheer size of the touring party has a noticeably divisive effect. jonsi is now travelling in his car with his boyfriend alex and his friends scott and his girlfriend. georg is still behind the wheel of his 4×4 towing the family caravan and now amiinis solrun and edda are also separated in another vehicle with their respective boyfriends.

this is all completely understandable (i too have my own girlfriend helen along to take pictures of the tour), but i can’t help but miss the camaraderie brought on by being alone with the boys and girls on one tour bus, waking up together and going to bed together (although not literally). the layers of separation are multiplied by the addition of a large (if lovely) film crew, as well, of course, as our own extensive road, some of whom don’t appear to have brought enough clothes along for a tour of a place that is after all called “iceland”.
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more information about seyðisfjörður: home page / wikipedia / pictures on flickr.com



day eleven:
august 3rd, kárahnjúkar & seyðisfjörður

around the [kárahnjúkar] camp on the springy moss under the cloudless sky a few dozen people are scattered. it’s hard to tell whether they are professional protestors, sigur ros fans or just people on holiday who wandered onto set, a mix of all three one suspects. we heard on the way up that there was a story on national radio that yesterday sigur ros had attempted to make their way up to the dam only to be turned back at a roadblock. we also heard that someone had stolen dynamite and that as a result the whole area was sealed with no public access. it is of course all horseshit, designed to derail objections.

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concert review page: 2006.08.03 morning kárahnjúkar
concert review page: 2006.08.03 evening seyðisfjörður

more information about the kárahnjúkar dam project: wikipedia / pictures on flickr.com



day twelve:
august 4th, ásbyrgi

it’s a raw and elemental kind of performance, perhaps informed by the knowledge that there are no more gigs to follow. i know it’s a good thing we’ve done here and that it’s going to look amazing on film, but on the night with the significance weighing heavy all around it is hard not to feel a little less than completely present. maybe i want the sky to crack and lighting to strike and slipneir’s foot to appear fleetingly through the tempestuous clouds. anyway, i challenge anyone to have seen a better or more significant show anywhere in the world tonight.

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concert review page: 2006.08.04 ásbyrgi

more information about ásbyrgi: photo series/ wikipedia / pictures on flickr.com



day thirteen:
august 5th, ásbyrgi & rekjavík

it’s way too early to tell, but i truly get the sense we’ve got something special here; a proper old fashioned rock film, pretentious and over-weening, unconventional and ambitious, beautiful and, hopefully, unique.
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