"The lighthouse stands alone off the beaten path, transmitting a message out across the ocean. Sometimes, musicians seem to play a similar role: a message is being projected out into the environment, without any guarantee that it will reach its destination. It is impossible to say who will receive it, or to which uses it will be put. Still, the only option is to keep on transmitting the message."
- from The Lighthouse Project EP book
About four years ago Icelandic string quartet amiina (then still in their original four-piece incarnation, as seen with Sigur Rós) set out on a journey across Iceland to perform in lighthouses and other unusual locations. The music they performed was written especially for small spaces and intimate crowds. See one such performance, premiered on Drowned In Sound alongside the news of amiina's ATP Iceland performance this July, here.
The inspiration for their journey came from the first time they performed in a lighthouse. A man in the audience described how he had experienced the music travelling up through the lighthouse structure, and outwards across the ocean, as if the lighthouse were now projecting music instead of light.
Entranced by this image, the group set off in a big van packed with instruments, accompanied by a photographer, one spouse, one newborn baby and another about to be born. Together they drove over the rugged coastal roads of Iceland, seemingly to the end of the world.
The resulting songs are a mix of old and new - little nocturnes in simple arrangements.
amiina had previously collaborated with Lee Hazelwood, only weeks before his passing away, on a song that ended up being his last recording. On the flip side was amiina's arrangement of "Leather and Lace". The simple arrangement of the song fitted perfectly with the other songs, and the spirit of the Lighthouse Project.
The band progressed and grew, releasing an album called Puzzle, in a new six-piece formation. This little clutch of quite special compositions was gathering dust, so amiina decided to revisit the project late last year. They decided to record these songs in their original arrangements, giving them the power to travel outwards forever, like their orginal Lighthouse beginnings.
The band felt it was important to convey the intimacy of the original performances, so the songs were recorded "live" in the studio, as if at a concert. The resulting EP comes in beautiful book-format packaging with writings and photographs by the band, on the Morr Music label.
The UK street-date for the physical CD is June 17th.
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.