Danish musician and sound-sculpter Jakob Kirkegaard is interested in the sounds that most people will never get the chance to hear. In addition to collaborating with lots of different artists over the course of the past couple years (including Philip Jeck), he has put together an increasingly interesting body of work of sounds he has captured in a natural environment using homemade and experimental microphones. These spaces include many different locations that are known for their desolation, including deserts, volcanic earth, ice, and nuclear power plants.
Eldfjall is his newest release and like his other recent work focuses in on a rather specific body of sound sources. The release consists of geothermal recordings of vibrations in the ground around the area of Krisuvik, Geysir, and Myvatn in Iceland recorded using an array of accelerometers and vibration sensor microphones. The result is a release that is jittery and alive at times and still and droning at others, a bizarre slice of sonic life from under the surface of the group from an island known for its geothermal activity.
The biggest question one probably wants to know the answer to regarding work like this is whether it's listenable, and like a lot of difficult music, that answer to that will probably change depending on the person. "Ala" opens with a dark, droning rumble before shifting off into a stereo-shifting piece of soft gurgling splashes while "Gaea" opens with what sounds like the faint blipping readouts of a machine measuring some sort of activity (not quite geiger-clicky, but close) before drifting into a softer droning section that gains in intensity like an encroaching wind coming down a mine shaft.
Elsewhere, the recording is much more alive and even noisy as "Nerthus" percolates with sections of crispy noise while "Kali" seems to batter the microphone with a steady wash of sound that sounds like water during a particularly heavy boil. In a strictly musical sense, the gurgling undertones of "Al-Lat" would probably tickle the ears of just about any ambient music fan. As a whole Eldfjall is an interesting document, but as a whole the sound portraits just don't vary that much. Most tracks contain some sort of liquid gurgling-type sound and the overall range is from peaceful to rapid and overdriven, while the frequency range is most often lacking any sort of low-end (which is odd, considering the actual sub-earth sounds recorded). If you're a person who finds field-recording and the specifics and even scientifics of it interesting, you'll probably want to seek this release out, but if you're looking for something more musical, there are better places to look in the Touch catalogue.