View Iceland Though The Eyes Of Rose Riebl

A personal insight into her new album...

Rose Riebl came of age in Melbourne, one of Australia's real arts hubs.

From jazz to classical, rock to rap, pop to electronic, the city is able to cater for all tastes, a real petri dish of flavours.

Yet she always had an urge to travel, to see other climates, and absorb the influence of different countries.

In particular, she yearned to explore the long, flat, wintery plains of Iceland; since seeing photographs of glaciers and volcanoes as a child, she was smitten.

During the process of making new album 'Do Not Move Stones' she achieved her wish, and thankfully took a camera along for the ride.

Rose Riebl sent the photos to Clash, alongside some notes on the construction of her LP.

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I’ve been fascinated by Iceland since I was a child – it was magic, wonder, as close to the cosmic wild as I thought anyone could get. My image of myself when I grew up was indigo-blue hair, a husky dog and finding a way to walk across the whole country (seemed doable on a map). At college I had a large map of Iceland on my wall. Finally, in 2015 I arrived in Reykjavik for the first time. I’d nearly missed my plane and arrived without a suitcase and without proper clothes for Icelandic winter. I went straight to an op shop and bought an old army coat and some woollen socks.

I stayed a few nights in the Reykjavik youth hostel then hired a car to drive along the south coast, off past the waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss to find the northern lights. It was the middle of February and I entered a total dream state, like I was living in a James Turrell installation, one where ground, sky, air, snow and road all became blue-white light: I was looking for this elemental wash in the eerie strings of ‘Forgotten Song’.

I wanted to evoke what I thought these elements (wind, snow, sky) might sound like in music: I began to explore this in the haunting cello harmonics in the opening of ‘An Ending, Go Back to the Beginning’, edited to take out the sound of bowing and create a sense of space, a siren call across a great distance, the melody that builds and pulls you under crashing waves.

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I had Sigur Ros, Asgeir, Jóhan Jóhansson, Ólafur Arnalds playing as I drove through open, wild landscapes. I’d stop the car at night and walk out into the pure black, the moon a huge, low orb. I did find the northern lights, late one night, they were like faint green smoke on the horizon. I remember I wanted to put into music, whatever it was.

That feeling of being alone but not afraid, looking out into a dark night full of light found its way into ‘I conversed with you in a dream’, a languid, dream-state meditation of sustained cello notes and deep chords on the piano. I have many memories of those nights I couldn’t sleep and this song is an invitation to sleep as well, a passage into darkness.

This album is full of memories of the small towns, the black sand of Reynisfjarg beach, a storm that fell one afternoon and, when the storm had finished, the sun that broke out of the sky and the waves that turned blue and stopped crashing. I have pictures from this trip sitting on the music stand of the piano, and I write music in the hope that it’s something people can disappear into, like a landscape, a door that opens and then closes behind you.

Culturally and artistically Iceland is full of the music, producers and artists that have massively inspired me. Spiritually it’s a geographical wonderland and a place that seems to crack open with soul. There’s something from the silence of that trip, and the wild of it, that often appears in my music, in the space between notes, the chorus that cracks open, the silence before the fall.

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'Do Not Move Stones' is out now – order the vinyl HERE.

Main Photo Credit: Alissaa Oughtred

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