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The first time I heard a song by Sigur Ros, I was instantly determined to get one of their albums. The song Njosnavelin or Untitled 4 as it is listed in the album, briefly featured in one of my favourite films, Vanilla Sky,'s climactic final scene. Ever since then, the song never ceases to get a smile out of me. What I did not expect was that what () has to offer could almost rival the very song I fell in love with. You know you've found a gem when the album has other songs that are just as good if not better than its already favorite lead single. The first thing you'll notice about () though is (apart from its strange affinity for brackets/parentheses) is that the songs all contain vocals that don't necessarily have any meaning, Vonlenska as it has been dubbed by frontman Jónsi, a constructed language that is up for interpretation by the listener. As odd as it may sound, in writing and upon hearing it, it doesn't subtract anything from () being a stellar album.
So 'Untitled 1' as it is aptly named, starts off the album with some ghostly bellows from the lead singer, alongside a dejected piano piece. Its all very saddening yet bright enough about what is to come, when the vocals eventually come to life, its as if someone is trying to tell you something. Although you don't know what he is saying, you somehow get the gist of it, coupled with the emotions raised by the ascending violins and trickling keyboards in the background. 'Vaka' as it was later revealed, is a decent introduction to an album and highlights what the listener is in for, by starting at a snails pace and slowly working its way up to a big finish. The child like high pitch vocal noises are a tad disturbing but all things considered, you may as well listen. 'Untitled 2 (Frysta)' however, is a slumping dazed song, that makes your eyes feel heavy. Its atmospheric dullness is only kept bearable by the slight hopefulness of the guitar work. That is until you hear similar 'lyrics' reused, one of the albums few flaws. The song drags and makes the rest of the album seem like its going to be a chore to withstand. 'Samskeyti' implores you listen on. The third track is one of the most upbeat songs on the album, if a little repetitive at times. The piano returns with an even more pleasant melody than before, slowly rising in volume and severity. This one seems to have no main vocal, but rather little murmurings going in their own direction and at its highest point, shows what the use of a bow on an electric guitar is capable of.
No.4 is worth the time to check out. 'Njosnavelin' is one of those songs that advertisers and editors put into their work, to emphasize just how incredible it is (listen to Sigur Ros' 'Hoppipolla' from the 2005 album 'Takk' for an example). Its where the vocals are at their best, full of strong poignent feeling and emotion that literally cannot be described. So this is one you need to hear for yourself - It would take a heart of steel to deny this songs beauty. It seems to have everything covered, from rhythmic percussion to harmonious vocal and the signature e-bow and crystal like synth. Woefully, the next track 'Alafoss' changes the direction yet again and becomes a polar opposite to the previous track. With its similar mood, drum beat and feedback, its a grim reminder of the 2nd song.. At least until an angry ending makes it stand out a bit more. The custom instrument named 'E-Bow' is naturally the name of the 6th song, in which it makes a bold statement in feedback fiddled fashion. Like the others, its beginnings are humbly quiet and take time to build momentum for what is an almighty clash of sound that stands out so vividly. During the 2nd interlude the classical e-bow playing is met with heavy piano and thumping drums, its none short of epic and one of the best on the album.
So far the songs have been well over 5 minutes each with the average time elapsing to about 8 minutes. Again, this makes it sound a tad boring considering the amount of time building up momentum, so its clear that you'd be better off listening in a patient or even spiritual mood. 'Dau>alai>' is again a recurring theme from before. Its the same dusty wandering-in-the-dessert-at-night sound, with almost exactly the same drum patterns and bass notes. However, this time it really stands out and practically takes you by surprise. Suddenly with a prompt change in tempo and volume, the song's chorus erupts violently into an enraged dirge that is fueled by crashing cymbals and melancholy cries. Possibly the most haunting song I've came across and at 13 minutes long, its a rare chance to take in hollowing, depressing music thats difficult to sit through, but easy to imagine all sorts of ideas that could have inspired this song. The ending of this album is something other bands should take note of - ending on an absolute high - not necessarily being overly joyous or eager, but being beyond awesome. 'Popplagi>' is the albums second pinnacle and is to me, what the end of the world would sound like. A subtly ascending apocalyptic anthem. Once again it uses the same recipe of building the song up, but nothing can prepare you for the amount of momentum and force this song creates. The bass comes to life for the first time on the album, along with devastating drums and the falsetto wails from the vocalist. Its almost scary how intense this song is, especially 9 minutes in. Its as if the drummer was in shackles throughout the album, and only now does he break through and go absolutely mental, showing off his courageous technical ability.
Despite its dull, sombre moments, the sheer brilliance of the greater tracks makes it nigh on impossible to rate this lower than 5. Besides, the songs I'm not particularly fond of, may be someone else's ideal song, which sums up the album - its not everyones cup of tea, but it's definitely top notch in my books.
A lot of you may have heard of Sigur Ros more recently, due to the BBC's obsession with including their music in almost every link VT. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Icelandic band by a friend several years ago. The music created by this group is like nothing else you will have heard before - it includes electric guitars played with a cello bow and the recording is apparently done in an old derelict swimming pool to get the required atmosphere for the recording.
The music is absolutely sublime and almost ethereal. Of all of their albums, () is by far my favourite. None of the tracks are titled and nor is the album itself, hence the (). I know what you're thinking - "how pretentious" or "that's a bit much" - but I promise you that you will not regret looking up this band's back catalogue.
This is the band that brought us the music from the BBC's Blue Planet - that soothing and lushious sound that is almost like a dream. () comes before all of that, though, when the band was less mainstream. The tracks are less commercial and for some reason, that makes them all the better. There are a few moments in this album where I could genuinely sit and weep because the music is so emotional. I have sat on countless occasions just staring and listening to this album.
The singer sings in a strange language which Sigur Ros invented for themselves. They refer to it as "Hopelandic" and it is essentially a group of vowel sounds that best fit the track. There are no lyrics as such but you will find yourself putting your own lyrics to the sounds made by the singer as he calmly and serenely allows his falsetto tones to wash over you like a warm bath.
If you have not had the pleasure of listening to this album, download one of the tracks from itunes (I recommend tracks 2 and 5 as my personal favourites) and I can almost guarantee that you will want to download the rest of the album soon after.
The band has gone a little more mainstream recently and their most recent two albums have not lived up to the standard of () but they are still good. This album is just something else. It is something that everyone should own - hurry off to itunes now to listen to it for yourself!
Not so much an album, but a concept. ( ) implying nothing, the songs which are all untitled, also implying nothing, and the sole lyrical use being vonlenska, excludes everybody, in the same sense including everybody. Vonlenska (or Hopelandic in English) is a language that has been created by Sigur Ros, enabling the listener to dream up their own ideas of the song, and for it to have its own meaning. A masterpiece of lyrical and musical genius, however without that edge. This edge that is in later albums, just seems to be lost here. A more somber take on things, still with that sigur ros magic, but without those hidden depths. I believe the band were still finding themselves in the making of this album, the songs being similar in style throughout. This album is still reccomended, however their later albums such as Takk, are more accessible both lyrically, and in the differing styles of song available.
What an intriguing, engrossing, delightful set of songs. As Sigur Ros slip more and more in to the musical mainstream, it often pays to look at the back catalogue to see the true roots of a band. With Sigur Ros, this is less a good idea and more a necessity.
Whatever you want to call it (The Brackets album, The Untitled Album, or simply '( )'), this album is utterly sublime. I've often listened to this thinking that no words could describe the music and subsequent moods and emotions it generates, which is not so good when reviewing the album! But I'll give it a go.
'( )', as I shall refer to it from now on, is more an experience than just a set of tracks. From what I've heard by them, it is the best album Sigur Ros have produced. Twice the album 'Takk' is anyway. At 8 tracks, it falls short of the usual number of tracks on their other albums, but the level of quality within these 8 songs more than makes up for their quantitive value.
'( )' is an appropriate title in my opinion, as the first and last tracks are my slight personal favourites. As they are all (officially) untitled tracks, I shall refer to them numerically. (Besides, my Icelandic isn't exactly great, so it saves on bad spelling!) Tracks 1 and 8 bracket the album superbly, and start and end a musical journey that few other CDs can match. There are two slight opposing moods throughout '( )'. The first half is a little more mellow than the final 4 tracks, where the tracks build up slightly and add more depth and feeling. Although not entirely different to one another, the two halves of the album complement each other perfectly. I've referred to this album as a whole so far, and there is a reason for that. There is no one outstanding track, and there is no one weak track. Each of the 8 offerings will offer a different emotion, a different spine-tingling sound. It's all so beautiful.
Now, how to describe the music itself... Well, if you are reading this you have most probably heard at least one track by Sigur Ros and therefore have some sort of opinion on them. I believe it is best to approach this album without prejudice or any previous thoughts on the band. It is a different flavour to any of their newer material; slower paced and more intricate and detailed. The music is ambient, both brilliant as background music and as focussed listening. The emphasis is very much on the instrumental, as the vocals are minimal, sporadic, quietly melodic and merely offer another layer to the tracks rather than convey any message or poetry.
As you may have guessed, I am a fan of this album. In fact, over recent months it has become one of my favourite albums of all time. Any music fan with the slightest interest in the alternative should invest in this album. Sigur Ros have not yet beaten this offering in their follow up albums, and I believe would be very, very difficult to do so in the future, not just by Sigur Ros but by any band.
In short, buy this album whatever the price. I hope it enhances your music collection and your life as it has mine.
Wow! As with all the Sigur Ros albums, this is AMAZING - absolutely beautiful! The CD consists of 8 tracks, label Sigur 1 - Sigur 8 respectively. EVERY song on this album is amazing and I just can't get enough of this band.
Sigur Ros are a 4 piece from Iceland and sing in their own language called 'Vonlenska' or 'Hopelandic' to the English (which is a cross between English, Icelandic and Gibberish) and it is truly beautiful - even though you can't understand what they're saying, listening to them is one of the most amazing experiences ever.
If you do go on to buy this CD, I suggest you drive out to the hills somewhere with your boy/girl friend, look at the stars and listen to this CD - you WON'T be dissapointed.
One of the best bands of all time, all of their CDs are on my iPhone and Desert Island Disc list - I urge you to buy their CD... NOW
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Untitled I
2 Untitled II
3 Untitled III
4 Untitled IV
5 Untitled V
6 Untitled VI
7 Untitled VII
8 Untitled VIII