Features Music

From the remote island

{mosimage}Iceland: a country of no more than three hundred thousand inhabitants that live in an island with amazingly beautiful landscapes. A nation that was able to achieve independence from Denmark without any bloodshed, and that counts with and excellent sports tradition; as an example their handball national team has played and achieved awards and medals at the highest international level.

In the music scene, Iceland is not only about Björk. Other artists like Valgeir Sigurðsson or Mum are showing that this island is not isolated at all, and it can give birth to a very modern sound. Not mentioning the band featured in the present article: Sigur Rós (that means literally “Rose of Victory” in Icelandic. One of the most beautiful names that you can hear from a rock band nowadays, don’t you think…?).

The taste for poetry, minimalism and an aesthetically balance goes far beyond the name of the band. Sigur Rós pays great attention to every one of their melodies, but at the same time are able to use a carefully studied sloppy approach. For example, in the year 2002 they released a work whose title says everything (and almost nothing); the album in question was called “( )”, with all the tracks untitled and sung in an invented language that takes as reference their native Icelandic. The intention was that every person listening to the music could give their own interpretation to the feelings provoked. So if you do not master Icelandic language, do not worry, because what Sigur Rós wanted to achieve is to aim directly at your heart and feelings.

The band has gone through different changes in their formation. It was founded in 1994, and nowadays is formed by Jón "Jónsi" Birgisson in the vocals and guitar, Kjartan "Kjarri" Sveinsson in the keyboards, Orri Páll Dýrason as the drummer and bass player Georg "Goggi" Holm.

For those of you who are already fans, there is not much left to discover about their talent. For the others believing that they don’t know anything about Sigur Rós, it can maybe ring a bell if you listen to their famous and delightful melody Starálful, or if you are followers of the German band Rammstein, that used their homonymous composition Sigur Rós for opening the gigs during their Reise Reise tour. You can check out that in the DVD released by the Germans Völkerball.

The band also collaborated in the soundtrack of Vanilla Sky, the Hollywood adaptation of the Spanish film Abre los Ojos. It seems that they members of the band were not satisfied at all with the experience of scoring music for a mainstream film, and got pretty annoyed with the experience of working with super star Tom Cruise and director Cameron Crowe.The style of Sigur Rós can be found closer to others like Radiohead. It is not by chance that both bands made collaboration together in 2003 for composing music for a dance called Split Sides. The Icelandic collaborated with three songs called Ba Ba, Ti Ki and Di Do. Those titles look like extracted directly from Marinetti´s head!

But most important thing is that Sigur Rós are totally alive and ready to rock in this end of 2007! Their fans can be happy, since they have released a double album called Hvarf-Heim with plenty of unreleased material and new acoustic versions of old songs. Added to this, they offer the nice surprise of releasing a documentary called Heima: a beautiful portrait of their native country with an amazing photography that shows accurately the breath taking beauty of the landscapes. All that naturally spiced up with the music of Sigur Rós. If you like experimental rock in combination with landscapes that look extracted from a marvelous dream, you cannot miss it! Sigur Rós have found the most effective therapy against the darkness of the winter: outstanding releases that can help to understand not only their music, but also the culture and nature of Iceland.

will be screened in Tallinn, Estonia as part of the Tallinn Black Nights film festival on the 2nd and 8th of December.
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