Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson & BJNilsen – “The Found Tapes” (2018)

The creation of music is, for the musician, a personal process.  Whether making the most seemingly vapid sugary pop or the most challenging avant garde, the creator brings at least some elements of his/her personal experience to the process.  And while we as listeners can never fully feel that place, we can hear the result, and what is produced is, at least scientifically speaking, the same for all of us.  Sure, one person’s hearing may be better than another’s, but at the end of the day we can use equipment to show precisely what the sound waves look like.  So while the artist’s personal experience is still unique to them, the rest of us have a framework (the song) through which to try to comprehend it.

Dreams, on the other hand, are a totally different story.  In theory we all dream, though I’ve known a few people over the years who say they never, ever remember their dreams upon waking.  That seems so strange to me, because while I don’t always remember my dreams, I’d say that most mornings immediately upon waking I have at least some recollection of what I dreamed.  These memories are often quite fragmented, sometimes even down to just a snapshot-like image or two, and they’re certainly hard to keep in my mind, fading like an ice cube melting on hot concrete.  I’ve even been fortunate enough to have a few lucid dreams, which is a total trip and can be quite a lot of fun if you can manage to stay asleep.  But have you ever tried explaining your dream to someone else, or listened as they tried to explain theirs to you?  The entire thing often sound so bizarre, and often quite different from your own dream experiences.  Do we all dream the same way?  It doesn’t seem like it.  Some people’s dreams are quite linear, while others are complete chaos.  And what about the emotional connection to your dreams?  We’re talking about something that is a shared human experience, but one which we literally have no way of truly sharing with others.  Maybe I could make a film or a song that captured some dream I had, but the disconnect is at a very deep level.

Listening to The Found Tapes is like intruding into another person’s dream.  It’s like getting inside someone’s head and hearing their unconscious, the sometimes faint, sometimes bold firing of synapses.  There are threads that seems to have a logical flow to them, but at times these are sharply broken by the entirely unexpected.  Sigmarsson (part of Stilluppsteypa) and Nilsen create a universe that feels like it is set inside a hollow cranium, a confined space capable of reflecting and shifting sound in ways that can be both beautiful and unsettling.  Some places are calm and orderly, others dark and primal, superego and id co-existing and sometimes colliding like billiard balls rolling along a rubber mat, so that even when they don’t make physical contact they still change one another’s trajectories due to the curves their masses introduce onto the surface.  It’s the sound of the early days of the universe, a Jungian archetype coded into our DNA by the big bang.


I believe there are two versions of this release.  The first is a cassette accompanied by a 112 page color art book in a limited edition of 70 copies.  The second, which is the one I have, is also an edition of 70 copies, but is simply a cassette and one signed/numbered photo in a plastic pouch.  Overall the best genre description I can come up with is experimental ambient, but what you really want it for is the dreams… the dreams…

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