Walking on Sound

Stomu and Sverrir are friends and accomplices. They have known each other for many years and have already worked together. Stomu has been to Iceland to take part in Sverrir’s premieres. During Sverrir’s tour of 15 Japanese cities in December 2005, the two artists spent a lot of time together in Kyoto and discussed creating a new project that would permit their sensibilities to meet.

The aim of this film is to give us an insight into this artistic friendship. The two artists create a musical project especially for our film in which Stomu’s mineral sounds encounters Sverrir’s unique voice.

The film begins in Iceland with Sverrir. Then we accompany him to Japan where he meets up with Stomu. We see them composing the score, then deciding on the rocks they should use and how they are to be installed. They decide how on the composition of the orchestra and the choice of instruments. They rehearse for the world premiere of this musical work, which shall take place in Kyoto, the city of the arts.
We shall witness how their two musical universes at first interact tentatively before finally and utterly abandoning themselves to each other. The genius of these two musicians lies in the fact that they can enter completely into the other’s world but still manage to preserve their own musical world resoundingly clear.

I find it particularly exciting to enter into the minds of such brilliant artists, the way they search for an identity, their conception of their role as a medium. A medium for energy to flow from Iceland to Japan, and from the Land of the Rising Sun to the land of elves. Helping this energy to circulate is demanding. The work required to attain perfection is enormous. For Sverrir and Stomu wish to create a harmony between their two works.

Japan and Iceland have a very strange relationship. Hundreds of Japanese come to gaze at the aurora borealis. This is not the mass Japanese tourism that is rife in our countries but, instead, a slow, solitary, silent initiation practised by the Japanese who come here to discover these unique landscapes, this unique light. A Japanese proverb says that a person who sees the aurora borealis will have their wishes fulfilled. For an infertile woman, it is a sign that she shall soon become a mother.
What a strange paradox it is to see these Japanese travelling around this island and approaching it with a respect, a devotion even, that is the exact opposite of the common sight of buses haring around Europe in three days with two meagre hours in each museum (before being whisked off to the next). In Iceland, it is as if time stood still. An aurora borealis cannot be captured by even the most sophisticated of cameras. How much patience it takes to wait for the Great Geysir to blow. Four hours in the falling snow!
Sverrir and Stomu’s project is to put this meeting between the myths of two continents, this fusion between two such different natures, into song. To do so, they will work together on a unique repertoire that will travel through the history and the landscapes of their countries. Gregorian chant will provide an echo to Stomu’s music. Sverrir shall be the medium who makes these time-travelling melodies reverberate within us, helping us to feel the density of a universe that is surprising in its permanence but also in its continuous powers of renewal. An exhilarating marriage of the ancient and the new, forged by the same fusions and eruptions as these volcanic lands inhabited by elves and spirits.

It is Stomu’s desire to make the rocks vibrate in unison with Sverrir’s voice so that the Icelandic melodies coil up inside the buzzing of his percussions. Everything that is so refined and so elaborate about Japan will blend in with a voice and a music from another planet.

This is a journey into the mysticism of Iceland and Japan, a dialogue between sagas and haikus


About the film

  • Type
  • Length
    90 min.
  • Language
    Icelandic, English
  • Original Title
    Gengið í hljóði
  • International Title
    Walking on Sound
  • Production Year
  • Production Countries
  • Website
  • Icelandic Film Centre Grant


  • 2010
    European Spiritual Film Festival, Clichy - Award: Best European Film