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by ken micallef cross the rhapsodic emotionalism of thom Yorke with the somber tones of gregorian chant and you get sigur ros, the biggest thing from iceland since moose-balls and bjork. on its second album, the quartet forgoes everything but the music, refusing album and song titles, even the cover is a study in near white album minimalism. but the sigur ros sound remains true to form. with singer jon birgisson bowing his guitar to replicate the ethereal tones of reverent dolphins, sigur ros revels in cathedral like intensity. at once like a giant godzilla falling in slow motion or gentle deer peering at you through the forest, () is beautiful, if strange. some songs drift like hot air balloons with single note keys and galvanic drums, others nearly rock out with smashing guitars. sigur ros songs maintain a similar mood throughout, birgissonęs wordless "hopelandic" vocals often giving the music a feeling of autistic shamanism. but it also comes awfully close to kitsch, his arcing cries frequently sounding like tortured zombies. after seven tracks of rising and falling dream choirs, sr crashes the barriers on track #8, ramming vienna boys choir serenity through with steaming power rock intensity. let us pray.

(ken micallef)



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