Sigur Ros - Heim / Hvarf (EMI)
27 Nov 2007
"this is sigur ros throwing you around the world and landing you in a pool of your own deconstructed sentiments and vomit, a far wiser and more passionate person than you were at the beginning..."; release - '07
Those of you that believe in God's creation of the world understand that on the 7th day he rested. Those whom believe such ideals to be fact must also understand that on this fabled 7th day, when relaxed back in his lay-z-boy looking out at all that which he had created... the heavens, Earth, mankind and the stars etc... this would doubtlessly have been the album he'd listened to.
This is all that you can dream will come from a band already renowned for such musical perfection, and some. It's not the surging power of 'Hoppipolla', or not at first glance anyway, rather this is the calm before the storm of apocalyptic battle between the angels and demons of whatever plain of existence you believe we all subsist upon. It begins with complete breakdown into almost silence, just simple piano strokes to build the opening of the first disc, the first of two momentum building bodies of work that join when the acoustic meets the electric and where life is torn in two.
Brimming with grace, the expressive 'Samskeyti' is actually billed as the opener to what should be the second disc, 'Hvarf', though listening to the album backwards, finishing with the 'Heim' chapter does their music so much more justice and really makes the experience into a climbing journey comparable to the epic nature of that undertaken by Frodo Baggins. The emotional onslaught of beaten down walls of façade that us humans spend our lives creating is little destruction in comparison to the uplifting level of sheer euphoria that Sigur Ros seem to create only to sadisticise the lives of normal people who try so ardently to retain shreds of dignity and composition while hearing music so beautiful it's more a work of art than a collection of songs.
There's no way we can put into words the complexity of their reach as musicians, the understanding they must have realised so early on to make such life changing sounds comparatively near the beginning of their careers and express it in ways we can understand. Does it matter we can't appreciate the lyrics? No, and in so many ways I'm glad I don't speak Icelandic as there's no way the actual words are anywhere near as poignant as you can imagine they are when listening to their melodies. Only the bliss of ignorance is cushioning you from what could turn out to be the most overwhelmingly powerful moment of you life for better or worse if you could fathom their indecipherable lyrics, broken away from the potency of the music they surround. Jón Þór's voice is in many respects another instrument used to communicate whatever feeling is at the root of their songs grand design, the message being within the composition itself, in every last meticulously placed note.
Who are we to judge the trivial moments of such grand work, not that there are any moments that don't work, and we mean not a single one, but in a way you wish that this album did have a signature or obvious high point that you could ride with the band such as 'Hoppipolla'. Though this doesn't have a moment that ostentatious, the journey that leads you to 'Hafsól' is one of utter wonderment, the benevolence of the work throwing you around the world and landing you in a pool of your own deconstructed sentiments and vomit, a far wiser and more passionate person than you were at the beginning... and that's something Takk could never quite do.
There's not really anywhere to go from here other than the gas chamber, and believe me when I say that if I had just one album's length of time to pass before I quit breathing, this would be at the top of my wish list. It ncases all we've learned and finely tuned the whole human condition into an hour of music, simple music which spreads across your mind and takes you far closer to understanding the meaning of existence and the answer to life's questions than you've ever felt before... "Oh my God, it's full of stars!"
If you only buy one album this Christmas, make it this one as you'll never have as good a day as when you hear this for the first time. The weak-hearted be warned, the open-minded freed, this is Sigur Ros at their most masochistic.
Stream five tracks from 'Heim / Hvarf' HERE.