Imogen Heap's "Climb to Sakteng" Is What Hiking Up the Himalayas Sounds Like

The Frou Frou member's new album takes inspiration from her trip to Bhutan.

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Jul 17 2014, 3:00pm

Imogen Heap, one half of Frou Frou, doesn't take song titles lightly. "Climb to Sakteng," for instance, a song she wrote for The Happiest Place–a documentary about Bhutan by filmmaker Ben Henretig–actually came to Heap while on a hike up the Himalayas. It's meaning takes on a different context in the video though which tells of the town, Sakteng, finally receiving electricity in 2012, when each family had to carry a phone pole up the mountain to their home.

"Utterly inspired during and after my trek through the Himalayas, and this magical country as it takes considered steps into the future with its rich culture and heritage firmly in tow, I wrote this piece to accompany a beautiful scene where we see villagers carrying huge wooden poles, one per family, back up the mountain to their home Sakteng, laying the land for electricity," Heap says.

You can hear what that trek would have sounded like in the song. Heap creates a sonic collage with field recordings of footsteps, streams, and broken ice. "It features vocals by the stunning bird like dexterity of Sonam Dorji's voice who's day job is to record and protect all the folk song from this country before all memory of them disappear," Heap explains. "The sounds of the villages and mountains, rivers and crunching of crisp snow. Plus the occasional kitchen whisk and other unrelated things I found at home!"

Check out a clip on the making of the video below.

"Climb to Sakteng" also appears on her upcoming fourth album, Sparks, due out August 18 via her own label Megaphonic Records.

Imogen Heap is curating this year's Reverb Festival in London which kicks off in August.

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