Sigur Rós: Starálfur
woke and inhaled every molecule of the supposed paradise that dogs our inner city daydreams of peace and tranquillity, beauty and stillness, fire and brimstone. I saw glacial mountains and people like ants and all that epic grandeur that we pseudo-bohemian types were convinced didn’t exist. Had we been too cool to admit they were more than just fantasy? Were we too comfortable, too complacent to go out and check for ourselves? Perhaps we had reason to disbelieve. After all, we’d seen dreams crushed and we were already enamoured with/desensitised to the violence, the profanity and the other nasty things that I was taken away from in these stolen seconds, these doomed decades.
Glassy eyed and fuzzy, I gathered myself before sunrise and strode out like an Olympian in the Ancient Greek afternoon. Someone murmured in my eardrum/radio/intercom and administered a chord of comfort, so personal. The sickly soda I pressed to my lips was only for show—with a bottle so clearly visible no one would dare suggest I might not rise to the challenge. I knew I didn’t need it because I had the momentum of a top-end piano melody and the rigidity of my low-end heartbeat keeping me going. Glucose is what we use when we don’t care. I’m convinced that when these mountains were born they were their own adrenaline.
From a tender age Joni Mitchell told you there would always be peaks and troughs. You’re told that you won’t know the highs until you hit a low, and that the lows will come at the most inconvenient/unexpected times. You’re told that they’ll almost certainly take the wind from your sails and the fire from your belly. It takes something else entirely to extend that old cliché, to realise it’s full potential. You look out of the reinforced glass, you listen, and even those gorges, those valleys—that unplugged simplicity—they all bring their own warmth to share. Yes, its what you always suspected, what you desperately hoped: THE TROUGHS ARE THEIR OWN PEAKS TOO.
My heartbeat pulls me back every time I get sidetracked. The radio, the strings and the sheer detail—the biggest mountain in the world slowly drifts past and now I’m in an almost prophetic state of awe. And yes, that’s where everything comes together in widescreen: a filmic experience that would be mystical if it weren’t so modern, so clean. It’s a precarious balance. The combination of velocity and elevation should burn out, but it doesn’t. And of course I’m too ecstatic to notice anyway. It lasts fifty-three seconds, and then you’re invited up to the cockpit to get a proper eyeful, for perhaps another half a minute.
Upon the noisiest of descents, you’re given time to come to terms with what just happened—some time to reflect. I may have been sharing a twenty-seater ’plane with German and American tourists at 5:30 AM, gawping at Mount Everest and the entire Annapurna range—but it was beautiful. I may be listening now to metal and machinery manipulated to sound like seventy-two virgins playing for me in Nirvana—but it's still beautiful.
And I’m still warm.
By: Colin Cooper
Published on: 2004-10-20