This breathtaking music that goes by the title Songs of Despair, a collaboration of Swedish artists Sara Forslund (Birch and Meadow), LÃ¡rus SigurÃ°sson (composer, arranger, musician, musical instrument maker and artist) and musician David Ã…hlÃ©n, began as a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by Ã…hlÃ©n and artist Samuel Sander. Sander had the desire to create an artbook based on the biblical Book of Lamentations. The story is of the destruction of a city and a holy temple, and the despair of the inhabitants left in its ruins. It is also a story of people in exile in a foreign land. The project became a series of art pieces and later, this mournful, melancholy collection of songs, delicately and powerfully brought to life by world-class artists.
“Death is my hope.
But my thoughts of it
strike me with fear.
I thought I believed.
In life, love.
In some kind of god.”
– The Meaning, from Poems of Despair
The exploration began with a five-day visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall during Tisha B’av. This inspired audio and visual sketches that culminated in an art exhibit in Sweden. From that auspicious beginning came a collaboration with priest, psychotherapist and poet Bengt Thurfjell, who then penned the collection, Poems of Despair. In 2015, Ã…hlÃ©n began setting these poems to music, and was soon joined by Forslund and SigurÃ°sson.
This stunning album was recorded in different studios in Iceland and Stockholm, and mixed by LÃ¡rus and Birgir JÃ³n Birgisson (Sigur RÃ³s’s studio engineer) in Sundlaugin studio, Reykjavik. It is the first release by fledgling Gotlandic label Kaip.