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The Lighthouse Project Jeremy Allen , July 22nd, 2013 08:10

If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound, and if one sits alone in one's room griping about having no friends, does it make one any less annoying? Or if an object is deliberately positioned in a gallery by an artist, does it make it art when outside it might be considered just another object? There are no real answers to these questions, but here's one we can attempt to answer. Does music sound that much sweeter when it's played in a beautiful location?

The answer is probably no, not recorded sound anyway. It would depend on an endless number of permutations; how many players are playing, the quality of the instruments and the recording equipment, the acoustics of the location - all of these and many more would have to be factored in in order to delineate whether or not a sound was more beautiful than another sound because of the structure it was played in, presuming this was something you could scientifically prove in the first place. Too much physics? Almost certainly.

amiina are not a group too concerned with nonsense like science. The Icelandic troupe set out on a quest to play in lighthouses right across their native country, after performing one show in one of these coastal monuments. An audience member later exclaimed that he'd felt the group's music travel up through the structure and out across the ocean as he'd stood atop it. It's an image that captured the imaginations of the musicians, who then set out to play their songs from as many towers of maritime navigation they could find, projecting music into the ether where you'd usually find light.

It's a story that captivated among others, the late great Lee Hazlewood, who performed aversion of his 'Leather And Lace' with amiina just weeks before he died. An instrumental version of that track is found on The Lighthouse Project, recorded last year, as a sort of centerpiece to the EP and no doubt as a tribute to the great man. amiina are a group that grew by stealth, organically and you suspect without crass ambition, beginning life when some girls from the Reykjavik College of Music formed a four-piece string quartet. The group enveloped permanent members Magnús Trygvason Eliassen on drums and electronic artist Kippi Kaninus in 2009, and they've been part of Sigur Ros' setup for some time now.     But it's on The Lighthouse Project that you feel the conceptual idea and the aural reality have come together in a way that makes this album a particularly special one. The sparsity of sound, decorated with warm chimes and the diverting dalliances of a dreamy saw, take you to the pastoral splendour of a magical faraway place as you listen to these recordings; though you can't actually see the rugged roads, and the choppy waters and the bluey grey sky for yourself, it's not difficult to imagine them if you close your eyes. To immerse yourself in the back story and imagine these spine tingling songs being played in a lonesome lighthouse off the shores of Iceland makes the experience an even more enchanting, and dare I say, beautiful one. Even if it can't be proved.