Sigur Ros - Saeglopur
Not long after the BBC's Planet Earth series helped widen this band's audience by employing Hoppipolla as that programme's theme tune, we now have the third release from their most recent album Takk, and a song that is currently soundtracking BBC Wimbledon ads. A music snob might sniff their noses at this commercial decision, fobbing the Icelandic four-piece off as 'sell-outs'. However, when a band can create a song as bewilderingly beautiful as Saeglopur then who the hell cares?
The song's first minute lays the groundwork, an affecting key line set against chiming glockenspiel and otherwordly vocals. What comes next is astounding. A grind of feedback precedes pounding drums and bass that kick the song into life, and a sweeping vista of epic proportions greets the listener, the piano heavier in the mix and complimenting the soundstage it is now an element of. The song climaxes three and a half minutes in, and the 'quiet'/'loud' dynamic reverses by planting the listener in a haunting outro that defuses the explosion that has come before it. Simply gorgeous.
The three songs that accompany Saeglopur are little jewels in their own right. Refur is instrumental, a mood piece of melancholy that pushes all the right buttons. Meanwhile, O Fridur is just as atmospheric, a peaceful meditation incorporating trilling strings that provide a suitably magical backdrop to Jónsi Birgisson singing 'It's beautiful to drown'. The final track Kafari is stripped down to bare components, with what sounds like a vibraphone plinking away beneath the audible breathing of a band member. However, strings come in halfway through, adding majesty to what is already a beautiful experiment in ambience.
A beautiful experiment in ambience - this phrase can be applied to this entire EP, as well as Sigur Ros's output in general. If you're a fan, buy this for the amazing bonus tracks. If you've only just woken up to the wonders of this band, this is a great starting point. It sure is beautiful to drown in this lovingly-crafted and exquisite music.