The Compass Series presents: Nord Rute – Part 1 of the Valkeapää Narratives

“…their joyful, pounding electronica seems to fill the room with light and warmth. One piece is like a gaggle of music boxes bobbing on a tide of deep groove. The contrast with the gritty recordings of the hard work of herding is very satisfying”. Clive Bell, The Wire.

‘Nord Rute’, is the first of four ambisonic projects, inspired by the literary works, drawings and soundscapes of the Sámi multi-artist Nils Aslak Valkeapää. Through his work Nils became an ambassador for the Sámi and was absorbed with the importance of traditions for an indigenous people. Nord Rute takes the Norwegian Sámi as its central theme and was a collaboration between sound artist Ross Adams, electronic music composer Ed Handley, the Sámi poets Synnøve Persen and Ánde Somby, with Joiking and drumming by Ingor Antte Ailu Gaup.

The Sámi are the only ethnic group in the European Union classified as an indigenous people. They are a minority that inhabit four countries – Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia and have their own language and culture, which has thrived due to their ability to adapt to changing social and geographical environments over the centuries. Music and art have emerged as influential tools in the process of maintaining community and identity.

Part docu-poem, part music score, part folk tale and part sound montage, Nord Rute captures the events of a reindeer migration to their spring birthing pastures on the shores of Porsangerfjord, northern Norway.  Ross travelled 450 kilometres across vast plateaus, through valleys and over frozen lakes with Klemet Amund Eira and his ‘siida’ – a collective of Sámi herding families – and their reindeer. Klemet’s family have been travelling with the reindeer from time immemorial. Using a Soundfield  microphone, Ross recorded the age old journey together with mountain recordings of Ingor Antte Ailu Gaup Joiking – an improvisational expression of self and nature intended to translate the ‘essence’ of a person or place into song – and his contemplations on the Noaide (Sámi Shaman).

Incorporated into the narrative is an interpretation of Valkeapää’s poem ‘No.272’, from his book ‘The Sun, My Father’, with spoken word by Synnøve Persen and processed Mbira performed by Ross. Synnøve was recorded in woods near her homeplace in Porsanger. Poem No.272 is about a reindeer herd on the move examining the Sámis’ complex terms for describing reindeer and sounds of the arctic tundra.

Amidst the dense, gritty field recordings and sound design, poet Ánde Somby travels between city soundscapes, tundra and underworld offering thoughts on his connection to the tundra, dreamtime, the gift of the reindeer from the ‘underground people’ and what the hunted animal has to say to the hunter, whilst echoing Valkeapää’s message on the importance of traditions, the bringing together of cultures and what people and 21st century industrialisation can learn from indigenous, ancient knowledge systems.

Nord Rute was performed live through a 12 speaker ambisonic array at the Barents Spektakel Festival in Norway from the centre of a giant ice maze beneath the northern lights, and the Compass Series event amidst the Ballardian wastelands of the Thames Barrier at Trinity Buoy Wharf. A stereo version was adapted for radio on Deutschlandradio Kultur.

Nord Rute will be released on Gruenrekorder in 2012. (

Album Info

Recorded on location in London and northern Norway between Karasjok and Porsangerfjord.


Sonosax SX-R4 Digital Recorder

Soundfield ST350

DPA 4060 (spaced pair)

DPA 8011 Hydrophone

© The Compass series 2011. Straying Maps The Path…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s