From Ryan from Swaziland:
If anyone out there read my last HYMN detailing my relationship with Hood’s “You are Worth the Whole World” you know my affinity for electro-acoustic bands from the early 2000’s and the brittle sputter of a drum machine over a piano’s minor chord progression plunked from within the bowels of some forlorn lighthouse atop some Bronte-esque crag half-hidden by Iceland’s Volcanic clouds. Actually, that is exactly how this song was recorded. The Icelandic collective nested inside a lighthouse during the writing and recording of Finally We Are No One. Sometimes things are just too precious.
While gaining some traction in Iceland and Europe (even landing itself the spot of 484 on Pitchfork’s 500 best songs of the 00’s) circa 2002-2003, “Green Grass of the Tunnel”, like all great and not-so-great songs do, came to me during my first semester of College. Remember that wide-eyed and impressionable time when everything is “the best” and “mind-blowing”, Donnie Darko was by far the “best” and most “mind-blowing” FILM (we are using that word now) you had ever seen and questions like, “if God could microwave a burrito so hot that he himself couldn’t eat it, would he still be God?” kept you up at night. Interpol was so hot.
While I am less than convinced of Richard Kelly’s prowess as a director and storyteller now that I am a little older and wiser, I have not lost my affinity for this song that is still simultaneously “the best” and “mind-blowing” without canceling each other out and doubling back on themselves thus creating a wormhole that opens to a tangent universe while destroying this one. Yes, this song is that good.
While effectively working as an intro to Finally We Are No One, with melodies and imagery being recycled at various points throughout the album, “Green Grass” never wears out its welcome. There are truly breathtaking firsts in this song. Repeated listens don’t take away from the first time you hear the multi-tracked twinkle of a thousand toy music boxes, to that time when the stuttering, glitched break comes in, to that first swoon of that utterly heartbreaking violin. Kristin Anna Valtysdottir’s vocal debut is nothing short of a revelation. While at first disarmingly and impossibly child-like and way too cute, anything more timorous or pronounced would break the gossamer thread that holds everything together.
I don’t know if the fountain of youth elixir or some underground geyser, but Iceland has an inordinate amount of idiosyncratically child-sounding vocalists from Bjork’s work with the Sugarcubes to Jonsi Per Bergissen’s unattainable falsetto. Valtysdottir’s voice is peerless, even in this crowd.
For those of you still in College, when you are in your most introspective of moods, take a walk on a brisk fall day when the leaves are just starting to blow off the trees with this on your I-Pod. Just don’t let your head explode with how awesome it all is. Thank me later.
múm - Green Grass Of Tunnel