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  • Anette Frisch

Music to swim to

For me swimming and music have many things in common. Both make atoms vibrate, both have the power to heal, both the power to escape the world. A concert with Alex Somers.

Die Fotocollage der finnischen Künstlerin Susanna Majuri zeigt eine Unterwasserszene. Darin ist im Hintergrund, verschwommen, ein Haus erkennbar. Es ist weiß und hat ein blaues Dach. Davor ist eine Frau in weißer Kleidung zu sehen. Sie wird von hinten gezeigt und es sieht so aus, als würde sie zu diesem Haus schwimmen. Die Szene wirkt surreal, wie aus einem Traum.
© "Saviour" by artist Susanna Majuri.

I went to a concert this week for the first time in two years. I wanted to see Alex Somers, who comes from the wider circle of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. I like their calm, dramatic, spherical sounds and I thought that would do my escapist longing good. Just to get away from here without having to slip into my bathing suit.

Alex Somers is an American electronic musician but has been living in Iceland for a while, with Jónsi, the singer of Sigur Rós. I assumed that Jónsi would be a good influence on his partner and bring him a little closer to his way of composing. Plus the influence that the rugged, grey and lonely Iceland will have on him. I imagined that Alex Somers would be completely lulled by so much elfin wisdom and geyser energy that he would resurrect Sigur Rós at the bottom of his musician heart.

The evening began promisingly. On the pitch-black stage an orchestra was getting ready, behind them a choir, who were jerking their music stands into place. The vocalists alone kicked things off, sending off their bright voices, which lay like gauze on musicians and audience. Freeeeeze. Until conductor Robert Ames' slender hands drew sweeping arcs in the air and the orchestra kicked in to play what could be a romantic film score called "alexandra".

For quite a long time I thought the conductor was Alex Somers, but that wasn't true. Somers was the man about 1.60 metres small who stood in the middle of the orchestra in front of a kind of youth bedroom desk and turned sound machines, looking so uninvolved as if he had landed there by chance. Maybe he was just suffering from the world premiere claim of three of his compositions that evening. As well as he could, quietly on stage.

At the beginning of the concert, the founder of the approximation festival Volker Bertelmann aka Hauschka told the audience that he and Somers had a conversation about who should be invited to the festival. According to Hauschka, Somers had written a kilometre-long email with suggestions. They agreed on William Basinski, who had to cancel his participation due to illness. And so Somers became composer in residence.

William Basinski is an American composer, sound and video artist. He has dedicated two of his albums to water: Watermusic I. from 2000 and Watermusic II. from 2003. Beautiful music to swim to and escape from the world for nearly an hour.


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