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New Music For The New Millenium

Sigur Ros
(Fat Cat)

Hailing from Iceland, Sigur Ros is one of those bands whose sound defies traditional descriptions. If I must, though, I'd say they fall into a category with shoegazer bands like Slowdive, but also have small touches of the Cocteau Twins and maybe even a little bit of Radiohead in their sound. With only four musicians and a singer, they've managed to create some of the dreamiest, most atmospheric music that I've heard in a long time.

One of the first things that may strike you about the band is the vocals of the lead singer. Although they're high and sound like they could belong to a female, they actually are those of a male, but somehow drift above and weave through the songs in an almost inhuman way. Another beautiful thing about the vocals is that they're all sung in either Icelandic or "Hopelandish" (a nonsensical language that was concocted by the lead singer). Because of this, the vocals really do just become another part of the overall sound and aura. And what an aura it is.

Svefn-G-Englar is the first release by the group to be made available outside their native Iceland. Although they're released two-full length albums and a remix disc, this single contains 4 tracks (one of which is available on their second full-length) and over 35 minutes of music. The title track of the disc is a swaying piece of droning guitars that wash behind keyboard drops that sound like sonar blips while the light vocals (that stick in your head after only one listen) waft through. You'll be humming it all day after hearing it. The second track "Visar Vel Til Loftarasa" starts out slowly, but swells into a crescendo of flurrying strings, piano, and guitar by the end. The two live tracks that comprise the rest of the disc are no less amazing. They're like slow, sad waltzes that wrap you up in their layered sound and make you feel like you're swinging in a hammock in the clouds.

All I know is that if this band continues to get better with each release, their name is going to be on everyone's tongues pretty soon. It's some of the most sweeping, beautiful music I've heard in some time and even though the tempos are slow and the songs tend to be kind of dreary, they're also very uplifting in a way. Listen, because you will be hearing more of them in the future.

Rating: 8.25