The Long Now owe a debt to a fireworks party in Lewes.
The meeting point for Richard Norris and Finnur Bjarnason, the British electronic producer and the Icelandic artist met almost by chance.
Swapping ideas, the pair sketched out a new universe, one informed by Russian futurism, psychedelia, left field electronics, and modern classical music.
New EP 'Restoration' is a fascinating release, one that continually surprises at every turn, an absorbing fusion of two very different techniques and approaches.
Clash invited the duo to break the EP down...
Richard Norris: This track has an atmosphere that I can’t quite put my finger on. When you hear it, you feel it. It has a certain kind of magic. It’s happened with a very few tracks I’ve worked on, this feeling. ‘Floatation’ by the Grid, has it, for example, or the Beyond The Wizards Sleeve remix of Midlake’s ‘Roscoe’. The sum is bigger than the parts, with the atmosphere suggests a particular world all of it’s own.
The title is a shortened version of its original and full title. ‘Restoration Of Life To The Fathers’, which came from our interest in the early twentieth century Russian Cosmism movement, and the Cosmist leader Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov. His work is little known in the west, and is full of utopian visions of the future, including ideas about immortality and populating other planets. He was an inspiration for the Russian space programme.
Finnur Bjarnason: This track started out as an experiment in finding a sense of stillness by using just the piano playing a steady pulse, with gradual changes in the harmony. The result possessed a certain ‘otherness’ that seemed to chime with the strange ideas of Cosmobiology. These were developed in the early 20th century by Iceland’s first outstanding geologist, Helgi Pjeturss.
After having stayed up for too long whilst reading for university exams he became open to all sorts of cosmic wisdom (which he later set out in several thick volumes). So we added the vocal ostinato, repeating Pjeturss' idea that “Dreams are a radiation from beings on other planets”. I sang it through my modular synth, trying to get the effect of the vocal arriving from far away. In the final section the tentative beginning opens up into a fully blown ‘dream'.
'Hotel Du Lac'
Richard Norris: This was an early track that came from our first experiments, which were mainly beatless ambient instrumentals and drone workouts. The title refers not to the Booker Prize winning novel by Anita Brookner, but to the Hotel Du Lac in Trentino, Italy, a favourite summer residency of Sigmund Freud.
I imagine Freud swimming in Lake Lavarone, surrounded by clover blossoms, enjoying nature. He’d enjoy his stay by hiking in the woods, and he’d take his children mushroom hunting. Hopefully some idea of tranquil contemplation, of diving into the depths of the lake, comes across in the track.
Since writing these early ambient pieces, our music has developed to include Finnur’s singing, and also a string quintet, featuring players from the Corelli Ensemble, which will be featured on future releases. I hope it still retains the feeling of swimming in a deep lake, however.
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'Restoration' EP is out now on Curved Space - order LINK.
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