In the liner notes to Thomas Köner’s Novaya Zemlya (2012), Thierry Charollais writes that Köner produces “a physical, bodily music, pulsating and flowing like heart beat or tidal movement, surrounded by almost infinite horizons. Listening to Novaya Zmyla is like discovering and exploring unchartered territories, by moving through the innermost scenery and your own body”. These words could apply to many other albums in an increasing body of work inspired by the crysosphere, encouraged by record labels such as Glacial Movements (Italy) or Faint (Spain) whose entire catalogues are dedicated to the icy realm.
Publisher IIKII books is the latest imprint to dip their toes in Arctic waters. IIKII specialise in creating dialogue between artists and musicians. The music artists Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer provide a slow ambient soundscape of gentle acoustic guitar, piano, chimes, played at breathing pace, to accompany Ester Vonplon’s photographs taken in Svalbard, the Arctic archipelago. There is a grainy 70s aesthetic to the photos that complement the music production which features tape warping that evokes sound decay and the passing of time. Colours are mainly white, greys and washed out blue tones, but occasionally a brownish tinged fog envelopes the mountains. The photographs depict melting ice, receding glaciers, isolated glacial erratics, and swelling seas. The mountain scenes, albeit in fjord settings, seem to contradict the Lowland title – unless of course they are viewed in a global warming context and it is the lowlands elsewhere we are asked to contemplate.