Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros – Med Sud I Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust (With a Buzz in our Ears we play Endlessly) 2008


When I first heard Sigur Ros’ 2005 album Takk I felt that the band had fallen into a rut. True their ambient passages and high pitched cooed vocals sung in a made up language is quite haunting, but over the course of four albums it does sound tiring. Something had to change or the group would be forever flogging the proverbial dead horse.

Then in June Sigur RAos released a taster mp3 of their upcoming fifth album. The track was called ‘Gobbledigook’ and it sounded totally unlike anything the band has ever done. A thumping drum, a jagged acoustic guitars and general sense of joyous abandon. Yes it did sound similar to something Animal Collective would have cooked up but, who cares this is Sigur Ros we are talking about. A group who’s songs move at a tortoise pace and blanket you with textures. It was a fresher than a newly caught fish and it was a clear sign that album number five will shock.

Upon receiving the album, I ripped off the plastic covering and flung the disc so savagely that I was sure I damaged my discman in the process. I already heard ‘Gobbledigook’ (and trust me it sounded glorious when listened to on headphones) and then second track ‘Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur’, a orchestral convoluted folky tune – and there’s no other way of describing it - confirmed that Sigur Ros have changed tack (not takk) and introduced new elements to their traditional sound.

Unfortunately the rest of the album does not follow up on the shock of the first two tracks. However it’s not business as usual with the group either as a sunny vibe permeates the record as a whole. Whereas in the past Sigur Ros used orchestras to create a melancholy feel. Listen to the epicentre track ‘Festival’ and you’ll see what I mean. It also one of the few examples of the band embracing a celestial aura which they lacked. In other places there is a playful, loose approach to songs and it suits them perfectly. Med Sed is also the group’s most ambitious album to date. Recorded in their native Rekjavik , London , New York and Havana. Enlisting Flood (Smashing Pumpkins, Goldfrapp and Pj Harvey – to name a few) to produce and utilizing a 90 strong orchestra/choir (both the London Sinfonietta and the London Oratory Boy’s choir) and one track is sung in English, this is a grand statement of a record, but it’s not bloated overstuffed one and more importantly the listener doesn’t tire of the album, in fact it’s the opposite, it’s many delights actually entice more spins.

It seems that Sigur Ros chose the right time to create a career turnaround and an excellent one too, plus add that to the dazzling live shows that have gotten people foaming at the mouth and one can see why they are considered one of the best bands in the world today.

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