Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Now he'll know what I have done.

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust by Sigur Rós

I enjoyed live-blogging my review of Viva La Vida, so I thought I'd do it again with Sigur Rós's new album.  (The title translates to "with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly.") I am very excited about this release.  I am a huge fan of the past albums, but I also love the new direction indicated by the single, "Gobbledigook."  According to the band's website, "the album glows with the perfect imperfection of live takes, the sounds of fingers playing guitar strings, cracked notes, and a stark, upfront presence not found in previous sigur rós recordings, moving away from reverb-soaked guitar sounds towards something altogether more affecting." So, let's get to it.

Track 1 - "Gobbledigook"
This song is a joyous explosion of childlike wonder.  Extraordinary.  That's all I have to say about that.

Track 2 - "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur"
Wow.  More joyousness.  I love the glockenspiel and the drums.  How percussive.  This could be a sequel to "Gobbledigook," and I find it very uplifting, especially once the horns kick in.  Though I have no idea what the words are, this never matters with Sigur Rós.  They must be something soul-stirring, because mine is currently a-mix.  And the title means "within me a lunatic sings."

Track 3 - "Gódan daginn"
An acoustic song . . . We've slowed it down a bit, but the joyousness persists.  I really like the background voices here--they add an ethereal quality, especially around the 4:00 mark.  This song has many layers.  I will be interested to see how they play this live. (September 24!)

Track 4 - "Vid spilum endalaust"
What a strange opening sound.  I am a huge fan of the single-drum effect that these guys employ so often and so well.   Jonsi's vovals really complement the low-pitched instruments here. And once again, the horns soar in and pick me up.

Track 5 - "Festival"
Hey, I know that word.  Anyway, Jonsi sort of sounds like he is singing in church here: sparse music, clear and choir-like vocals.  Four minutes in, and I sense a glorious crescendo on the horizon.  So far, this is a dark and spare . . . I cannot finish that sentence, as the drums and guitar have burst onto the scene.  These drums are getting more and more complicated, and my pulse is getting faster and faster.  What a strange and powerful nine minute epic.
Track 6 - "Med sud í eyrum"
The opening piano and strings guide me beautifully to the drums, which remind me a lot of Us-era Peter Gabriel.  Once again, the layers here are a wonder to behold.  If one were to make such claims, I think one could say that this lovely song would be the one that fits best into the band's back catalog; the building and building, the vocals, etc.  And once again, about four minutes in, I listen in awe at the complexity.
Track 7 - "Ára bátur"
This one has me very excited, since on the website, the band calls this "the largest musical undertaking in the band's career, as it was recorded live in one take with the london sinfonietta and london oratory boy's choir, a total of 90 people playing at the same time."  It starts off beautifully with a straightforward piano and vocal.  I will now sit back and close my eyes and let this song wash over me.  Back in a few minutes . . .  [eight minutes later] Wow.  "Wash over me" was the appropriate phrase.  That developed into a full-on orchestral and choral masterpiece.  And any band that can create that music and "Gobbledigook" on the same album is pantheon-bound.

Track 8 - "Íllgresi"
This song is truly stripped down--an acoustic guitar and Jonsi.  And a few strings.  The Icelandic Nick Drake?  What a truly eclectic album, but it is all fitting together so well.

Track 9 - "Fljótavík"
This track starts off a bit like some of my favorites from Takk, so we'll see where it goes.  The strings are pretty dark here.  I love it when Jonsi hits those super-high notes (but not in the only-dolphins-can-hear-you way that some singers do [Mariah, I'm talking to you.]).  And the surprise of this song is the lack of crescendo.  I was expecting something else, and then it ended.  Lovely.  Plain.

Track 10 - "Straumnes"
A moody and brief instrumental song leading us darkly toward the album's conclusion (perhaps climax?), this is more tone-piece than song proper.  

Track 11 - "All Alright"
I know ahead of time that "All Alright" is Sigur Rós's first ever song in English, so that already has me intrigued.  A low hum and a lonely piano start us off . . . "I want him to know what I have done. I want him to know that it's bad.  I want him to know what I have done." Oh, I love the French horn.  No song with a French horn can help being wondrous.  This song is plaintive and heartbreaking.  Oh my.  I do believe my soul has just been shattered.

I cannot even believe that for a brief time a few years ago, I didn't really like Sigur Rós.  Now they are my go-to band for very particular moods.  And with all the worry about how this new album would change who they are, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust is a thing of wonder.  I cannot wait to listen to it again, and then keep it in my playlist for the rest of my life.


At 8:39 AM, Blogger undulatingorb posited...

You should check out My Brightest Diamond's latest album A Thousand Shark's Teeth.


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