Sigur Ros – Sæglópur (The Worker’ Institute)

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Sæglópur, the most recent single drawn from Sigur Ros’ fourth full-length album, finds itself in fine company on this ep release. Housed on one disc, the dizzying rise and fall of the title piece sits amiably alongside three unreleased tracks that strike up similarly fanciful poses, while a dvd unveils videos for the aforementioned Saeglópar, as well as Hoppipolla and Glosoli.

Stodgy as the Icelandic quartets growing interest in arena rock swells and epic bombast may be, at the very least, Saeglópar is one of the more refined examples of a pattern which Takk all but wears out. The song opens with some wispy harmonic fragments and a skipping piano and glockenspiel melody, animated by Jonsi’ falsetto vocals. After this very basic inception lifts the listener into a dreamy weightlessness, the track suddenly plunges into a deep pit of pounding drums, big basslines and hurricane guitar riffs, all pulling, tugging and entangling Jonsi’ delicate croon. Some few minutes later, as if shutting the windows and pulling the blinds on this densely swirling maelstrom, the group retreats inwards, where the mournful drift of a bowed guitar passes delicately over a pulsing piano refrain.

The other unreleased pieces opt for a more straightforward, almost minimalist path. ˇRefurˇ layers a tinkling, contemplative piano melody on top of fluctuating tones, some percolating hissing and the faintest of digital shimmers, while “Fridur┝ sounds almost baroque, its lush strings and bucolic flutes ebb and flow, eventually joined by Jonsi’ pleading voice. ˇKafariˇ eventually rises above a murmur, but by and large, its elliptical fragments of melody amounts to another moment of bucolic reverie.

Although the videos for Hoppipolla and, to a lesser extent, Sæglópur, come off as pretty, if conceptually limited, productions, Glosoli fairs somewhat better. Its last minute dash of a flock of children off a cliffside cleverly fits alongside and conveys the songs bittersweet mix of fullness and lack.

Max Schaefer

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