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new york times review of 'takk...'

sigur ros revisits its familiar empyrean realms on "takk...," this icelandic band's fourth album. "takk" means "thank you," and it's another set of awestruck, shimmering songs that circle through a few stately chords while evolving from near silence to unabashed pomp. on past albums, sigur ros has forged songs into hermetic sanctuaries, but on "takk..." it expands its music toward both the abstract and the corporeal.

this time, sigur ros lets pop choruses rise out of the mists, and jonsi birgisson sings words rather than the invented language on the band's previous album, "()." the lyrics are in icelandic, and sigur ros has said they are about "moments and small adventures." the production adds abstraction with surreal electronic effects, from carefully placed bits of static to elaborately manipulated instrumental passages. but it is also grounded in physical sounds, from bell tones and ratchety noises (possibly the music boxes sigur ros used for its collaboration with the choreographer merce cunningham, "ba ba ti ki di do") to marching feet to symphonic arrangements.

the band is augmented by strings and, in one hallucinatory stretch of "se lest," an oompahing brass band. sometimes more is less; there are passages in songs like "hoppipolla" where the music turns earthbound, even kitschy, as bombast replaces grandeur. but for most of "takk..." sigur ros continues to contemplate the sublime with rapture, melancholy and grace. the band performs tonight at the beacon theater.

(jon pareles)



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