Review: Hildur Guðnadóttir – Saman

Hildur Gudnadottir - SamanI watched a documentary on quantum physics yesterday. One particularly baffling aspect is that of “entanglement”, which says that the behaviour of two particles can be intrinsically linked in spite of any vast distance between them. I find myself returning to this as I listen to Guðnadóttir’s cello and voice navigating harmonic space; they are strong and independent when taken in isolation, and yet beautifully aware of how their angles and lines intersect. It’s like a mirror reflection liberated into free will and yet loyal to its original purpose, tracing the movements of the original while forever deviating. There is a triangle of attention and response between the cello, the voice and I, and during the points where Saman falls to its most delicate hush, I like to think that the instruments are responding to my presence as much as they respond to eachother.

What has always allured me is Guðnadóttir’s relationship with orientation and axis. Her movements – pendulum swoops, lingers of gravity and momentum in equilibrium – appear to be tethered to an invisible point in the audio space, around which she glides and swings as though tracing a circle circumference. On “Í hring”, I find myself rolling upon wave crests and turning green with seasickness; a toy of the ocean, tumbling between azure palms. On “Líður”, I stand precariously balanced on one leg upon a piano note in octave, as pillows of choral harmony hold me upright on either side. I am buoyed into balance by clouds of human breath, or perhaps something more divine – an energy smiling in the empty acoustic space. The absence and echo in each of these pieces is vast, and if I listen hard enough I can hear the dust catching the light of a stained glass window, or the twirl of a sunlight shaft as it showers through a hole in a factory ceiling. Guðnadóttir seems to rouse emptiness into life again, her cello a dawn chorus for walls and floors that have long between without warmth and touch.