Sigur Rós: ( ) twentieth Anniversary Version Album Assessment

Final week, for its twentieth anniversary, ( ) was reissued in a remastered version with bonus tracks. It comes amid a spate of renewed exercise for the band, which lengthy lay dormant till it returned with a Nordic opera in 2020, only a raven’s feather too early for the Edda­­­-based wave of Sandmen and Northmen and Odin-knows-what-all males to come back. Reunited with prodigal keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson—who joined for Ágætis byrjun, helped professionalize the self-taught band, and left in 2012—they’re on a world tour, with a brand new album slated for subsequent yr.

Underlining its stature in Sigur Rós’ catalog, ( ) options closely of their present setlist, they usually say that its pounding, cresting, 12-minute finale, “Untitled #8,” has closed all of their reveals because it was written. It was their first report with drummer Orri Páll Dýrason, who stayed within the band till he was accused of sexual assault in 2018. It additionally options Sveinsson; Georg Holm’s bass, keyboard, and glockenspiel; the string quartet Amiina; and Jónsi on the heart, his voice a lonely candle main by a dim, reverberating cathedral, his guitar the massive and dancing shadows it throws upon the partitions.

The report was formed in two halves, first mild, then darkish, however even the sunshine is draped with heavy penumbra, to the pleasure of those that discover Sigur Rós’ fearlessness of treacle each indispensable and typically cloying. Extra an awakening than a mere starting, “Untitled #1” is a crepuscular piano hymn bathed in mushy organ tones and yowling harmonies from which any hint of sourness has been charcoal-filtered out. The second observe is mottled and eerie, and solely with the third—which, with about 35 million Spotify streams, is the most well-liked track on the album by far—can we lastly hear an undiluted instance of the childlike, Yuletide splendor that made them well-known.

Typically, ( ) hints at a darker, harder Sigur Rós whereas remaining impeccably simple to take heed to—particularly the fifth observe, which is saturnine and arcane, with Jónsi’s consoling candle now like an oily torch revealing inscriptions on obsidian. This aspect of the band initiates the second half of the report, the place many of the bonus materials comes from. Along with the three tracks of the numinous non-album piece “Untitled #9,” which have lengthy been obtainable on-line, there are demo variations of the sixth, seventh, and eighth songs. (A forthcoming bodily version will embody additional bonuses, for higher or worse.) These sorts of extras are compulsory for the artist and simply handed over by the listener, which is really useful right here, as a result of they’re form of detrimental.

There’s something intensely irrelevant, even perverse, about listening to Sigur Rós demos. Their music’s magic lies in the way it involves us so polished and excellent, in any case these murky, unruly sounds have been soothed and smoothed by producers and engineers till every one appears impossibly shut and bigger than life. But right here’s “Untitled #6” with out its essential scratchy guitar tone, and “#7” with shakier time and an earlier ascent. None of it appears very revealing or flattering, and listening to Jónsi’s voice with out its finery is markedly illusion-breaking. Who needs to see Santa’s stomach in a plain undershirt? However that deliberate concession to the market is the one manner through which ( ) has misplaced any of its cloudy, mirrored shine. The factor about made-up language is that it at all times retains discovering new issues to say.

All merchandise featured on Pitchfork are independently chosen by our editors. Nonetheless, while you purchase one thing by our retail hyperlinks, we could earn an affiliate fee.

Leave a Comment