…for it is he that set me on this path, unknowingly of course, more than ten years ago.
As his landmark “Planet Earth” series was launched by the BBC in 2006, a promotional trailer was heavily rotated on TV, laced with stunning images and a mesmerising tune by a band I’d never heard of before.
It was Sigur Rós and the song was “Hoppipolla”.
The euphoric and ethereal happiness that this track generated – along with it’s own wonderfully childish video celebrating the simple joys of jumping in puddles – had a significant impact on me.
I was now beginning to pay more attention to things that came from Iceland.
After repeated plays of “Takk”, the album that featured Hoppipolla, I had become utterly entranced by the band and their unique style of music, but I was late to the party and it would be some years before I finally had a chance to see them play live for the first time, at Bestival on the Isle of Wight, in 2012.
That performance was transcendent and I was hooked, particularly by the furious conclusion to “Popplagid”, where the frustration of being asked to play earlier than expected to accommodate Stevie Wonder’s time demands saw Orri kick over his drums at the finale.
Music had never sounded like this to me before.
From that point, I seized upon every opportunity to see them again – in Wolverhampton, Brighton, Nottingham, Jodrell Bank, Manchester, Glastonbury, several times in London and finally in Reykjavik itself.
Along the way, I inhaled everything I could find on the band, including “Heima”, a feature length documentary following the band as they played a series of tiny free gigs all around their homeland before a triumphant finale in the capital, Reykjavik.
Suddenly, I began to understand where this music came from – the stunning scenery and open landscapes seemed to me to be an integral member of the band. The grand scale and wistfulness of the Icelandic countryside meshed with those sweeping strings and roaring guitars and created something that was utterly irresistible.
I had to go and see it for myself.
So, less than three months after seeing Sigur Rós for the first time, I arrived in Reykjavik in the middle of the night in deepest December, to be greeted by the Aurora Borealis less than ten minutes after I got off the plane.
That’s not supposed to happen.
The Northern Lights – capricious, but captivating
From then on, the die was cast.
Something in my soul had changed irrevocably, although it took me a long time to fully acknowledge what had happened.
Several subsequent visits have only further fed the obsession, with each return adding another layer to my connection with the Land of Fire and Ice.
When this sort of thing is laid out in front of you, who could resist?
Solfar – the Sun Voyager
Seljalandsfoss – the waterfall you can walk around
Gullfoss – The Golden Waterfall
Skogafoss – plus idiot
Strokkur – the evergreen geyser
If it hadn’t been for David Attenborough, I might never have seen these sights, nor followed this path.
For that, thanks (again), Dave.