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Sigur Rós – ( )

Monday, March 29, 2010

( ) (2002)

If Ágætis byrjun were Spring and melting snow and rushing rivers, then ( ) would be Fall and glaciers encroaching their icy claws over an already icy land.

Sigur Rós slows down here. The music exchanges the extreme range of emotion of Ágætis byrjun for the deep melancholy of ( ). This work is sadder, and deeper. If Ágætis byrjun were joyful exuberance, then ( ) is sorrowful wisdom. If Ágætis byrjun were youth and dancing, then ( ) is regret and old age.

The music is minimalistic in comparison, and shows another side of Sigur Rós’ brilliance. The music has a cold and haunting quality, like the year’s first rush of cold wind. It numbs and freezes you with its strains of sorrow.

Like Ágætis byrjun, ( ) strikes deep into my soul. The notes eerily describe how I often feel. But unlike Ágætis byrjun, it strikes solely into feelings we do our best to avoid – like sadness and pain and distance from a world that always seems to be going the other way. There’s the feeling of a scaling a beautiful, snow-capped mountain, hoping to see a promised land beyond of eternal spring, but instead of only finding a desert of ice.

( ) might be too bleak for some people’s tastes. But it is bleakly honest. To me, it’s about searching and searching, yet coming up short. It’s always trying to find home, telling ourselves it’s beyond the next mountain range. And then the next, and then the next, and then the next…

Maybe this sounds too depressing for you. But when describing this album, it’s impossible for me to do otherwise. And I think we mature when we contemplate the hard questions and enter the house of mourning rather than the house of feasting.

This album will mean different things to different people, making it all the more difficult to describe. But one thing is for certain – if this music enters you, it will get you thinking and feeling. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll leave for you.

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2 comments

  1. At first, after loving Ágætis byrjun, I was disappointed with ( ). It seemed rushed (I feel sure there’s a mistake in a piano part) and badly sequenced (though I don’t think SR are great at sequencing their records in general. But then, as you rightly say, ( ) entered me. Well and truly. For a year it was all I listened to and after all these years I still listen to it often. Is it my favourite SR album? Maybe. I enjoy its ‘bleakness’ as well as its ‘honesty’, but also its darkness. I haven’t heard SR’s delicious take on darkness again until getting Jonsi and Alex’s Riceboy Sleeps album, which does contain that almost animalistic darkness. And now I think about it, ( ) might be better sequenced than I give it credit for: it starts gently and ends with a stratospheric bang. I might just have to log-off and have yet another listen to what undoubtedly is a modern classic. Thanks for your post – it’s got me thinking, and listening.


  2. No problem. I just recently started listening to Sigur Rós and I am completely floored by them.



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