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Warm music from icy terrain

Sigur Ros - Takk...
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 2, 2006
Sigur Ros

Review by Tony Bonyata

Ever since the Icelandic rock band Sigur Ros released their debut album Von eight years ago, the quartet's music has been a reflection of both their motherland and her people. Songs filled with vast icy soundscapes, haunting ambient terrains and a warm human touch graced not only Von (released only in Iceland) but its two predecessors as well - 1999's Agaetis Byrjun and 2002's oddly titled ( ).
While the band's fourth full-length album Takk..., still retains much of the dreamy otherworldliness of their earlier work, they've also delivered a collection of eleven songs that are brimming with more heart and immediacy than anything they've done before - easily making this the most accessible effort in their career. Despite the the quartet's standard rock instrumentation line-up - consisting of vocal and guitar (Jonsi Birgisson), keyboards (Kjarri Sveinsson), drums (Orri Pall Dyrason) and bass (Goggi Holm) - the sounds that emit from this album are anything but standard. From the tranquil ambient wisp of the opening title track, to the epic swells of both "Saeglopur" and "Milano" and the decidedly more pop-derived numbers "Glosoli" and "Gong," the band's innovative, if not understated, use of guitar, keys, bass and drums (albeit with a good dose of strategically arranged strings) is nothing short of invigorating. None of the instrumentation is ever heavy-handed and the two instruments that do manage to rise above the rest are the lush keys of Sveinsson and the ethereal, often haunting voice(which truly is an instrument) of Birgisson. Sveinssen's keys, at times, seem to echo from atop a mountain cliff and, at others, playfully whisper as if the listener was the only person in existence, while Birgisson's lilting falsetto voice hovers in and out of the mix sounding like Radiohead's Thom Yorke auditioning for the Vienna Boys' Choir.
Sigur Ros' music may come from an icy terrain, but the warm melodies and sumptuous arrangements that unfold from these strange and wonderful compositions are enough to melt the coldest of hearts.

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