Sigur Ros frontman Josi and Swedish composer and visual artist, Carl Michael von Hausswolff have teamed up on a new project Dark Morph and their debut album is out today. Not some regular ambient or drone electronic record, they decided to go outside and find way to incorporate nature into their recording. They channeled nature with a series of field recordings that provide the meat of this record.
The project came together last summer when Hausswolff and Josi were onboard the research vessel Dardanella in the seas around Fiji. They recorded humpback whales in Tonga, bats in Fiji and the strange sounds of shrimps in the waters between. The album gets its name from the “dark morph” heron, which can be found on the islands.
They fill out the rest of the record with their own compositions, recorded at a studio in Jamaica in January.
It can be hard to tell what exactly each animal sounds like because they twisted the field recordings into somewhat different sounds that fit with the overall project.
“While we were on the boat I started to take the recordings, manipulate them and mutate them into drones or other types of musical functions-so we could use the sounds as instruments for building compositions. We decided, 'Let's try not to have them sounding too much like real sounds, let's turn them into something else.' When I had done some drones, some long tones out of a bird or something, I gave it to Jónsi and he started to peel off certain types of melodious things, and then play it to me. And then we started to just throw the ball back and forth," explains von Hausswolff.
It can be at times haunting, like a series of animals are surrounding you in a dense jungle as you wander off the beaten path. The composers embrace that dark drone sound with songs like “BANI MANUMANU,” which is built around this cacophonous, chugging bass that envelopes the listener.
This is an album that is best heard on good speakers or headphones because it was mixed so the sound surrounds you. You feel immersed in nature and their twisted mutations that create an almost sci-fi feel to it. It is foreboding, but beautiful to hear birdcalls distantly echoing in the background over animals shouting and forlorn synths.
The album is out today to stream and vinyl. Get your copy here.
They are also doing a free concert in Venice (Italy) as part of the Biennale tonight and are hosting an exhibit about the project in Venice at the Ocean Space museum from now until June 30. Get more info on both here.