In 1995, an arts group in Tromsø, located in the northernmost fjords of Norway, about 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle, commissioned a piece from a composer that would use the local geography as inspiration. The result was a live performance by Tromsø’s Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) and British electronica artist Bobby Bird (Higher Intelligence Agency) held in a cabin atop Mount Storsteinen, Tromsø’s highest point. Jenssen and Bird took the commission literally, spanning out over the city with their microphones to capture its acoustic profile in minute detail: the trinkle of meltwater, the crackling of ice fields as the day warmed, the clank and strain of the Shorsteinen Fjellheis (the cable car required to reach the cabin where the performance would take place). Then they loaded everything into their samplers and sequencers and arranged it into a stunning snapshot of life at the edge of the world.
DID YOU KNOW: The pair repeated the project three years later in the form of Birmingham Frequencies, which drew its source material from Bird’s hometown—with decidedly more urban results.