February 03, 2007

music review

They're not exactly candy to your ears. More like sushi--an acquired taste, and even then not for everyone...

Sigur Ros are artsy pretentious Icelandic weirdoes who play a slow, esoteric style called "post-rock." Post-rock uses traditional rock instrumenation but departs from typical rock style, delving into new musical territory. Vocalist and guitarist Jón Þór Birgisson plays his guitar with a violin bow, exploring sonic texture and tone rather than hammering out the usual rock 'n roll power chords. His falsetto vocals have an airy, dreamy quality to them, gently carrying along the slow-paced songs.

Admittedly, their music is not easily accessible. The songs are long--often 8 or 10 minutes, and none are in English. In fact, on their recent albums, none are in any language. Birgisson sings in something call "Hopelandic," which mimics the phonemes of Icelandic but isn't a real language (hence my use of the term "pretentious"). Their second to last album was called (). Yes, that's right, two parentheses. None of the tracks had any titles. Listeners may be weirded out (or mesmerized) by one of the recent singles, Glosoli. The track sounds like a dove from the Arctic Circle, cooing tenderly in some unintelligible Scandinavian tongue while ambient guitar tones swirl lazily through the atmosphere to the lethargic pace set by the Valium-stoned drummer. Despite their stubbornly (and sometimes pretentiously) inaccessible elements, they're not entirely lacking in popular sensibilities. The synths and guitar echo might be a tad reminiscent of Coldplay or U2. But the rest of it is is about as non-pop as it gets.

Should you desire to test the waters before diving in, you can check out some of their songs on YouTube or MySpace. Check out Glosoli and Hoppipolla from their most recent album, Takk. Two songs from their 2001 album Ágætis Byrjun, the title track and another track entitled Svefn G Englar, are available from the free downloads on Amazon.com. Tell yourself some sort of wishful lie before you dismiss them 2 minutes into the first song; convince yourself that they're high-culture cutting-edge movers and shakers, that they are musical innovators who have dared to defy MTV and offer something that's not "radio-friendly," that their work is the aural equivalent of the Icelandic landscape, that they are the 21st century inheritors of minimalism. You might start believing it.

Posted by jonsligh at 07:05 PM | Comments (13)