Völuspá is the second full length record from the Swiss experimental Jazz (if you could even call their unique sound that) trio known as Síd. To dub this an epic recording would be an understatement. The piece is an enchanted, multilayered sonic hybrid based on a 60 stanza poem of the same name. Save for a few edits and omissions, the poem was lifted directly from Prose Edda (a 13th century collection of Icelandic myths and poems) almost in its entirety, and sung in the original language. The tale covers the creation of the world and the cataclysmic war incited by power hungry giants which leads to its destruction and subsequent rebirth.
Völuspá took four years from concept to master. During this time, band leader and vocalist Rea Dubach aka Das Reum went into a creative seclusion, and not only immersed herself in Icelandic mythology and culture, but even learned to speak the language. She wrote the entire record the way one would score a movie – scene by scene – except that this movie flickered in her mind’s eye only. While composing, she drew inspiration from an extremely broad palette of music: Sidsel Endresen, Christian Wallumrød, Mica Levi, The Book of Knots, Kira Kira, Alva Noto, and Björk. What she „sampled“ and mined for, were techniques, approaches and moods.
The songs grew in layers like bark on trees – from the simple acoustic to the heavily modified. The core arrangement (slide guitar, bass, keys and drums) was overdubbed with field recordings and extra guitar takes, percussive instruments, glockenspiel, a bandurria, a lute, a moog, a rhodes and a grand piano. The vocals were sampled, sent through effects and resampled again. As much as the core sessions were about discipline, what mattered most here was improvisational madness – walking a fine line between beauty and chaos. If you listen closely you might even hear the sound of ping pong balls being thrown about and weird metallic sounding percussion bits being played on found objects.
The final product is gorgeously orchestral. It thrives on a skillful negotiation of opposites and the tensions that their clashes and contrasts create: the acoustic and the electronic, the understated and the rhapsodic, the regimented and the chaotic. The record is mesmeric, epic and, most certainly, it’s like no other.