There are two kinds of musicians out there: the music artist and the recording artist. Most of what we listen to is produced by those who fall within the latter category. Few artists ever achieve the former. But, Imogen Heap is one of the true music artists working today.
Her last full-length album, 2009's Ellipse, won the Grammy for Best Engineered Non-Classical Album. Come August 18, her fourth LP Sparks will likely earn similar recognition. Since March 2011, Heap has been compiling everyday sounds found across the globe and crafting them into music. From the first strike of a match to the clinking of crystal at a restaurant, Sparks promises to be something of a whimsical soundscape.
"Cycle Song," the fourth track on the album, comprises of hundreds of samples found across Bhutan. It's just as lush as you'd expect an Imogen Heap track to be: ethereal but grounded; light without the loftiness. The video itself does well to not only highlight Bhutan, but exemplifies the worldliness of Sparks.
"The first of two works appearing on the album were written for The Happiest Place, a documentary looking into Bhutan through the eyes of filmmaker Ben Henretig. I was lucky enough to join Ben and a group of people on one of these incredible journeys. I was utterly inspired during and after my trek through the Himalayas by this magical country as it takes considered steps into the future with its rich culture and heritage firmly in tow. I wrote this energetic piece to accompany a cycling scene in the movie and it has a cyclical theme. Featuring vocals by the stunning bird-like dexterity of Sonam Dorji's voice, whose day job is to record and protect all the folk songs from this country before all memory of them disappear. [The track also includes} sounds of temple bells, donkeys, nuns chanting, traditional drums driving us ahead," Heap explained to Refinery29.
"Music is a universal language" is a phrase that's thrown around all too often, but it rings true for Imogen Heap. To her, sounds are universal and music is the result those sounds coming together. You can see that here in the behind-the-scenes video highlighting the creation process of "Cycle Song." Imogen Heap isn't just another musician who just comes to the studio, records a track, and leaves. Her record is an immersive experience only a bona fide music artist can create.