Glósóli: an optimism fix for Europe

Article published on May 4, 2008
community published
Article published on May 4, 2008
With epic aesthetics and minimalist sounds, Glósóli (“Glowing Sun”) comes from Iceland; a treat for the senses whose basis is a poem which, combined with video, adopts almost messianic overtones.
It carries the signature of the group Sigur Rós (“Rose of Victory”) and despite its minor scales and apocalyptic setting, it is not outlandish to treat it as a call for optimism, an invitation to take risks in life. The figures in the video call for rejuvenation through absolute risk, it connects us with the energy of those who have everything in front of them: the young.

<div align="center"><object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /></object></div> <br /> <p>In a period of European depression, even one where the end of the tunnel seems to be in sight (in the form of the mini-treaty) it is tempting to see parallels in this verbal, musical and visual poem by the Icelanders of Sigur Rós. And the sore point here is that this melancholic optimism comes from artists from a European country that is not even a member of the EU. Do the fifteen or so young people (boys and girls) personify the varied cultures of Europe; calling to each other, awaiting each other and uniting in a common adventure in search of unknown horizons? To what extent is the final leap into the void an invitation to proceed with a less conservative European project that takes risks; risks which always pay off?</p> <p>The most striking feature of the powerful fantasy expressed by these Icelanders is the language chosen for their poems: Vonleska, a phonetic language based on Icelandic which was improvised by Jón Þór Birgisson, a member of the group. Vonleska comes from the synthesis of two terms: “Von”, which means “hope” in Icelandic, and “Islenska” -“Icelandic” -. This “Icelandic hope” is a language that cannot even be directly translated into Icelandic, and the theory behind its development is that it should enable the sounds of the poem to be freely interpreted by any person that listens, whatever their origin. A creative claim indeed, and above all a vote for poetic empathy that goes far beyond the lyric oeuvre of this lost corner of the continent.</p> <p>The group, fresh from their collaboration with Radiohead (in 2003, when they composed the accompaniment for the piece Split Sides for the dancer Merce Cunningham), has announced the release of a new album for the end of 2007.</p> <p>It is refreshing to come across these Icelanders concerned with showcasing musical agility whilst bringing together radically new forms of sound. Faced with a distant vision an able European will always step up to the challenge, instigating change from the shadows.</p> <p>Here is the poem Glósóli in Vonleska and in English:</p> <br /> <div style="border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; padding: 15px;" ;="" align="center"> <strong>Glósóli</strong> <br /> Nú vaknar þú<br /> Allt virðist vera breytt<br /> Eg gægist út<br /> En er svo ekki neitt<br /> Ur-skóna finn svo<br /> A náttfötum hún<br /> I draumi fann svo<br /> Eg hékk á koðnun?<br /> Með sólinni er hún<br /> Og er hún, inni hér<br /> En hvar ert þú....<br /> Legg upp í göngu<br /> Og tölti götuna<br /> Sé ekk(ert) út<br /> Og nota stjörnurnar<br /> Sit(ur) endalaust hún<br /> Og klifrar svo út.<br /> Glósóli-leg hún<br /> Komdu út<br /> Mig vaknar draum-haf<br /> Mitt hjartað, slá<br /> Ufið hár.<br /> Sturlun við fjar-óð<br /> Sem skyldu-skrá.<br /> Og hér ert þú...<br /> Fannst mér.....<br /> Og hér ert þú<br /> Glósóli.....<br /> Og hér ert þú<br /> Glósóli.....<br /> Og hér ert þú<br /> Glósóli.....<br /> Og hér ert þú</div> <br /> <hr /> <br /> <div style="border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; padding: 15px;" ;="" align="center"><strong>Glowing Sun</strong><br /> Now that you are awake <br /> Everything seems different<br /> I look around me<br /> And find nothing<br /> When I put on my shoes I realise<br /> That she is still in her pijamas<br /> Found in a dream<br /> I hang by (an) anticlimax<br /> She is with the sun<br /> And there it is<br /> But where are you...<br /> Take to the road<br /> And stroll along the streets<br /> If you do not find a way out<br /> Guide yourself by the stars<br /> She is there for eternity<br /> And soon she will come out<br /> She is the glowing sun<br /> So let us emerge<br /> I awoke from a nightmare <br /> My heart is beating<br /> Out of control <br /> I have become so used to this madness <br /> That now it is inescapable <br /> Here you are... <br /> I’m feeling...<br /> Here you are,<br /> Glowing sun...<br /> Here you are,<br /> Glowing sun...<br /> Here you are,<br /> Glowing sun...<br /> Here you are</div>