Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sigur Rós, Meo Suo i Eyrum Vio...

...Spilum Endalaust. A review

"With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly". That's the title of the band's latest and fifth studio album. And on it Sigur Rós play like they never did before. Gobbledigook, the opener, is a fanfare of choir and vibrant percussion, the type of music you may stumble upon at a pagan celebration, picturing virgins dancing around a bonfire, Wicker Man-style. The same with the album sleeve, pastoral and hippiefied, portraying four naked men, butt and all, running across a motorway.

Then there's the track called Inní mér syngur vitleysingur ("Within me a lunatic sings"), a bit less party-driven, but nevertheless quite merry: a woodwind background like you no longer hear anywhere, piano, drums and a crescendo of bells and strings. And it's not even portrayed like a cold and empty day, in the style of every other Sigur Rós album.

We're in pop territory here. Even though difficult to hum, their music is still accessible to everyone. However, the album ends where Sigur Rós started: ambient atmosphere, melancholy and a touch disturbing. We're not fully aware what the lyrics are about, also because available translations are patchy and often inaccurate: Jón Þór Birgisson, in fact, sings in Icelandic as well as Vonlenska ("hopelandic") the gibberish lingo he made up for himself. English is present for the first time in the final track All Right. The background is one that, to non-Icelandic common mortals like ourselves, is impossible to picture: a black night, a lake on the verge of overflowing and a firing sun that is sinking down the sea in the middle of a rainstorm.

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