Soundscape Røst - Spaces and Species Vol I | Elin Már Øyen Vister


Soundscape Røst – Spaces and Species Vol I | Elin Már Øyen Vister
Gruen 204 | Vinyl (+ Digital) | Digital > [order]


Soundscape Røst-Spaces and Species Vol I is a unique collection of field recordings and soundscapes, from the Røst archipelago – 100 km into the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Nordland (NO/Sápmi). The album is a careful edited selection of hours and hours of sound material listened to and recorded between 2010 and 2011. The listener will experience a multitude of nature and sea-bird voices/spaces and acoustic moments, spanning from booming roars to the faintest of hums. You can listen to the song of the multitude of pelagic seabirds breeding in the Røst archipelago and the Nykan nature-reserve and the acoustic moments in time of their ocean-and land spaces they spend their time in every spring and summer, mating, breeding their chicks, socializing and coming and goings searching for food.The lowfrequenzy grunts of the Razor Bill, the song of the last Kittiwakes of Vedøya, the swarming of hundreds of Puffin wings and their ancient cowlike song and grunts in their nests in Hernyken nature reserve, The Eiders of Kårøysundet an early winter-spring morning and the sounds of the ebb and flow on the Northside of Røstlandet are amongst the soundscapes on Vol 1.


Vol I is eavesdropping to the rapidly changing soundscapes of one of Northern Europe most numerous seabird breeding colonies which has for half a century experienced an escalating dramatic decline of the pelagic seabird populations, resulting in the silencing of the bird mountains . Soundscape Røst also listen to and documents the acoustic realities of a marine land -and seascape over time and listens to nature-culture in an everlasting continuum of interdependency. The vinyl album is an integral part of the sound installation Soundscape Røst – The Listening Lounge, (2012) and is the first album in the Soundscape Røst triology.


Note to the reissue on Gruenrekorder.
Since the album was released in 2012, the decline in the seabird populations have escalated. During the summer of 2020 the bird mountain of Vedøya became silent. Statistically speaking there are no more Kittiwakes and Guillemot breeding on Vedøya. In 1980 there was approximately 1.5 million pairs of Puffins breeding in all of the Røst archipelago and on Vedøya alone, 12000 pairs of Guillemots and 25.000 pairs of Kittiwakes. Now the overall Puffin population is down to around less than 200.000 pairs and the few Guillemots left are hiding in small caves and crevices. The last Kittwakes of Røst are now clinging on in Kårøya and Gjellfruvær. If the decline continues, there will be no Puffins left in Røst by 2040.




1. Ebb and flow through seaweed 4.24
2. Kårøysundet early spring morning 4.08
3. The Kittiwakes of Kårøya 5.20
4. The birdcliffs of Vedøy 4.37
5. Seagulls on the south side of Storfjellet 3.00
6. Midsummer in Hernykens eastern skree 5.41


1. Ellevsnyken eastern skree 5.18
2. Ellevsnyken eastern skree II 5.00
3. A narrow pass, Hernyken nature reserve 5.41
4. A raft of seabirds 5.08
5. Puffins wheeling and swarming 6.34
6. Summer rain in midnightsun 6.44




MP3 | North 3
MP3 | South 4
MP3 | South 5


12 Tracks (53′30″)
Vinyl (300 copies)





Image credits
Dead Puffin chick: Jason Rosenberg
Elin Már and Almar in boat: Jason Rosenberg
Same for Elin recording, Jason Rosenberg
Kittiwakes and red house Photo by AHS
Elin Már listening/binaural recording session in birdmountains by Norith Eckbo
The Listening Lounge – Article by Christina Kubisch (PDF)


Field Recording Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2021 / Gruen 204 / LC 09488





I haven’t visited the Røst archipelago, located 100 km west of northern Norway, but Elin Már Øyen Vister’s collection of soundscapes from the area grants me a fairly strong impression of what it would be like to do so. As I play the vinyl album (issued in a 300-copy run) and read the accompanying notes for its twelve pieces, the site’s soundworld comes vividly to life as I picture myself on one of its islands surrounded by site-specific birds flooding the air with vocalizations.


She created the album from many hours of sound material recorded between 2010 and 2011. While the presented tracks sound like undoctored field recordings gathered at different island spots, notes on the album’s inner sleeve suggest that some degree of editing was applied (“As a sound recordist,” she writes, “I have created hyper-realities and made some artistic decisions along the way that have shaped the content of what you listen to”). Even so, the settings come across as natural documents captured in real time. Shifting the focus away from the human being to the landscape itself is consistent with Már’s desire to examine places in their fullest sense and to study the ways all of the habitants of a site interact. For anyone wondering why field recordings compiled a decade ago are only now being made available, the material in fact originally appeared in 2012 in a self-released digital form but is now being issued by Gruenrekorder as the first vinyl chapter in a trilogy.


The album splits into “North” and “South” sides, with the locations associated with the tracks clarified by a map on the inner panel, the gesture a helpful aid for the listener wishing to conjure the experience of being there. The chatter of different gull types—the Great Blacked Back, Herring, and Common—resounds throughout the opening “Ebb and flow through seaweed,” with the rustle of water and air on mainland Røst a backdrop. The gulls make a return appearance in “Seagulls on the south side of Storfjellet,” this time augmented by the low-frequency chatter of the Razor Bill. In “Kårøysundet early spring morning,” Már, recording from a small boat, captures the quacks and hoo-hoos of Common Eiders and sounds generated by the Kittiwakes of Kårøya. The latter’s ‘voice‘ is particularly unusual, a warble and wail that at certain moments resembles a whimper or even laughter; they appear in “The birdcliffs of Vedøy” too, though this time as a shrieking, engulfing mass.


The recording at times gets extremely close to the birds. The fluttering of wings seems like it’s happening an arm’s length away during “Midsummer in Hernykens eastern skree,” as does the cow-like mooing of various bird types and the chirping of hungry chicks. On the “South” side, “Ellevsnyken eastern skree” catches the ear for the guttural, almost porcine croak of the Razor Bill and the squeal of other birds off in the distance. “Puffins wheeling and swarming” documents a cyclic group activity called wheeling that sees them moving en masse in an elliptical formation when flying upwards towards their nest sites.


A genuine sense of place is established by the soundscapes, so much so that it’s possible to picture oneself perched on a large rock enveloped by the sights and sounds of the birds, wind, water, and islands. An ecological dimension also emerges via text references to the decline in seabird populations over time. Since the album’s 2012 release, Kittiwakes and Guillemot no longer breed on the bird mountain of Vedøya, and the number of Puffins breeding in the Røst archipelago has dropped from 1.5 million pairs in 1980 to less than 200,000; Már’s projection is that none will be left in Røst by 2040 if the decline continues. That the rich symphony of sounds produced by the creatures has diminished so considerably over time turns this recording into something of a lament for a vanishing paradise. That makes this document all the more valuable, and it’s an attractively presented one too, with the inclusion of drawings made by Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen on Røst in the 1880s giving it an extra stamp of authenticity.


framework radio | #783
phonography / field recording; contextual and decontextualized sound activity
presented by patrick mcginley