Sigur Ros


Sep 2005

Nonsensical phrases and gibberish, sound like hopping into puddles

Alternative Rock, Post Rock, Indie and World

When the BBC trailed Planet Earth in 2006 it chose the extraordinary music of Iceland’s Sigur Rós and their breakthrough album Takk… to give it emotional impact.

Everything about this record seemed magical – that hardback sleeve with its embossed artwork, the handwritten song titles and the wall of sweetly recorded soundscapes that sooth and lift. Much of the album includes 'Hoplandic' lyrics - a Sigur Ros signature language, made up of nonsense and gibberish to achieve rhythmic effect.

Trombones, cellos, violins, trumpets, tubas and violas vie for our attention amidst keyboards and octave soaring vocals from Jónsi Birgisson. It opens with shimmering stringed instruments and warbling synths – building into a beautiful wash that feels like a hip movie soundtrack. Takk segues into Glósóli – six minutes of trip-hop backgrounds against delicate vocals as melodies float in and out. Sounding not unlike Björk’s older brother – Hoppípolla (Icelandic for 'Hopping into puddles') steals your heart with fantastic vocal layers and brass passages that hark back as far as Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper’s.

Með Blóðnasir feels like a Hoppípolla reprise while the near nine-minutes of Sé Lest chimes is like a child wanting to play hide and seek – Tunisian singer Amina blending with Jónsi in a battle of falsetto voices. Other dreamlike pieces include Sæglópur which has a touch of Kate Bush about it before it boldly goes into overdrive – and the forlorn but beautiful Heysátan.

I call it joy music. You can call it anything you like – just as long as you listen.