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Editor's note: We have activated the Neumu 44.1 kHz Archive. Use the link at the bottom of this list to access hundreds of Neumu reviews.

+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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Sigur Rós
( )

There is something magical about Iceland, an arcane land of fire and ice which has birthed such innovative artists as Björk and Múm. Sigur Rós arise from the same songwriting tradition, creating symphonic masterpieces that evoke a mythical Icelandic landscape. At times the band's music brings to mind the feeling of emptiness, hollow spaces that are washed over eerie guitars, doleful strings and downbeat piano. The songs here are post-modern wastelands that give way to dreamlike images, illusory yet very tangible at the same time.

Listening to a Sigur Rós album can resemble a religious experience. The Icelandic iconoclasts' music renders listeners powerless in the face of its emotionality, its power and its spirituality.

Listening to a Sigur Rós album can be like dropping from the sky, tumbling beneath the clouds and falling. Terminal velocity. It's like feeling suspended, ensnared in a vortex, and being forced to confront your emotional demons head-on.

Singer Jon Thor Birgisson possesses the peerless ability to communicate feeling, especially vulnerability, in the space of few, if any, words. Vocalizing in an invented language called "Hopelandic," Birgisson's otherworldly falsetto buoys potentially Byzantine songs — you may not know what he's singing about, but he communicates just the same. The rest of the band drapes Birgisson's vocal incantations in snowy, apocalyptic textures. The music is potent, powerful enough to just sweep you along.

Much has been said about the seemingly pretentious nature of this album, the band's third. Critics scoff at its lack of title, save for an unpronounceable symbol, ( ). Sure, none of the eight tracks are titled either, but that befits the band's approach. Think of the songs in the tradition of classical music, written in movements. The album coheres; it's a full body of work intended to be heard holistically, not simply as a collection of songs. But it takes some work. You must be an active listener to appreciate it fully.

Track 3 twinkles with abandon. This instrumental feels haunted, melting with fluid, repetitive keyboards, a dazzling, perfect soundtrack to an insular, late night drive. The song paradoxically possesses an archaic quality as well as a refreshing newness, crackling with recorded blips, but smacking of spring. The song blooms.

Tracks 7 and 8 burst with tension, spontaneously erupting in bits of fury that later restrain themselves and build up again for another schismatic episode, a collision. Sigur Rós' music has been compared closely to nature, and track 7 nears volcanic peaks. The album closer, track 8, is mournful, cascading until a breaking point midway through its expansive length.

( ) is not intended for casual listens. Though the temptation to be pretentious exists, Sigur Rós' proficiency and wonderful originality steer clear of the dilettantish hijinks or gimmicks that plague lesser groups. Slip on ( ), and just try to resist Birgisson's passion. Better, just close your eyes and let yourself drift.

by Brian Orloff

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