Sunday, April 27, 2008

Visual Poetry



There is some intense power in music, not the divine one, but one that appeals to the brain at a raw, physical level. The place in the brain, processing sound to electrical signals traveling bit by bit to that part of the brain, which tells me if what I am listening to, is really good.

Its funny how Mozart's work was said to have the tunes which would enhance brain power, whatever that meant? But there is some sensory appeal, that music makes us feel, eventhough its just a whistle, or a guitar piece, or even your favorite band.

Four years back, when I first experienced the film, Vanilla Sky, I fell in love with the concept of using music in the movies at the right place at the right time, to create a super impact of the scene in front of you. Frankly the only film which made me feel like I should learn spanish so that I can watch the original spanish version, Obre Los Ojos. The film has been interwoven with an out-of-this-world soundtrack. It just makes each and every scene come to life, appeals to you even more, makes the characters feel more real than they already are, makes you believe in the immense power of the visual poetry.

I experienced such an appeal just an hour ago, with Heima. Heima is a documentary film made around and about the Icelandic Post Rock band, Sigur Ros (pronounced See your Rose), which means Victory Rose (i think). My discovery of this band & its subsequent addition to my mental playlist, was also a direct effect of Vanilla Sky. Their ever so popular an spectacularly magical track 'Njosnavelin' (pronounced Navelin, i believe)
was featured at that scene in the film where we have come to know it all & the movie is just about to end. With stunning visuals & Tom Cruise falling to the ground from a sky scraper, his floating body enunciates the whole impact of the song & song enunciates the whole impact of the scene. I was perplexed & wanted to desperately find this song, which I eventually did & realized that I struck platinum.

It began as a love story & is now a quasi obsession for this band, whose name I learned to pronounce just 2 years ago. But its whole appeal is not just the music they play, but its the mental imagery they generate. You need to listen to their music in the middle of night or early in the morning, when there is no noise from the outside & its just you and the music. Then you have to close your eyes & allow them to take you on a journey of the aurora's, to the poles & deep across the mysterious dark of the space. This is, what I believe, is visual poetry, the sensory appeal I was talking about.

About the documentary; this documentary is a direct outcome of the wish of the band to play for their own country-folk, a sort of gesture to give something back to their beloved nation. After their world concert tour, they decided to go unannounced into the Icelandic country side, look for places to setup their equipment & start a concert, free, just for the local folks. Then moving around the whole nation to visit many villages in the icelandic country side, which btw is a beautiful, beautiful place (more about that later).

People, from the local towns, join them, everything is impromptu, no promotion, just go there, setup & play. The places where even the population was not enough to fill a small chappel, people from even the neighboring towns joined the townsmen for the concerts. Its not the concert or just he music I loved in Heima, it is the representation of the music. Using violin sticks to play the electric guitar & making a xylophone out of naturally available stones, is just the beginning. Their music not only explores the surreal Icelandic country side, but it also runs along with great concert visuals & stage lighting. The breath-taking videos of the shores, kids playing on the beach (presumably the band's & the crew's families), it all gives a gush of fulfillment. You suddenly get teleported to the place, the shore, the high mountain, you can almost feel the chilly Icelandic wind blowing on your face. The music is just the stimulus. Even the concert itself is visually stunning. Constructing sets on the spot in a matter of hours, or using local abandoned buildings or sometimes even setting up a concert bang in the middle of a field, just out there under the sky. The raw simplicity of their music, their inspiration & the visual collage it creates, it almost became meditative. It lasted for an hour and thirty minutes, but in the end I felt it had just begun. It can be simply called as the calmest experience of my life, what a way to end the exam!!!

The music also put some thoughts in my head, while listening to sigur ros, it almost felt like there has to be that one special lady sitting right besides you who gets the music just the same way you do, whose presence is like that visual collage that you cant wipe out even if you want to, the calm & the ease of living almost making you feel high. The question of what is life all about, becomes so irrelevant after this experience, that it seems as, whatever this life is it should never end, should always have this Icelandic tune playing somewhere in the background, at those special moments we come across.

Before today, I never really thought that a few songs or a post rock band could move me to such an extent, but like they say, "harr cheez ka first time hota hai".

Song for the moment: Hoppipola - Sigur Ros

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2 comments:

Raunak said...

Apologies for the "violin stick", its called the "bow". Calling it a stick is as derogatory as calling a Lion a pussy cat :)

Professor Batty said...

... I've discovered Sigur Rós in the last few years as well, I had the good fortune to meet Jonsí and speak with him for a short time, I found him to be a very intense yet agreeable person. Heima is as complete a concept as I've ever seen in a concert film.