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observer review of ( )

the second uk release by icelandic ambient rock collective sigur ros does not feature song titles. the cd booklet contains no information, save a logo of a child sleepwalking. even the album's title is an absence, the space between two parentheses. it's an admirable aim, to reduce the clutter between listener and music, but in their efforts to mean all things to all men sigur ros have effaced themselves to a problematic degree. ( ) continues the rich vein of ethereal melancholia begun on their startling, much-feted agaetis byrjun album, this time incorporating more electronic atmospherics instead of just the whooshy bowed guitars. but nothing here quite captures the imagination like that album's stormy surges. instead, half a dozen mournful piano reveries float past, a little unmemorably, before anything actually happens. ( ) isn't exactly an insubstantial album, but it never really takes a satisfying shape, preferring an amorphous wistfulness that's the avant-rock equivalent of muzak.

(kitty empire)



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