Sigur Rós: Hvarf-Heim
Sigur Rós - Hvarf-Heim - [Xl Recordings]


Sigur Rós aim at making people feel good, that's what their music does. Even when the tender peacefulness they create is disrupted by aggressive distorted guitars or cacophony of strings arrangements, there is no mistaking their good intentions - it's simply something you feel, and Sigur Ros's music is something you've got to feel, mainly because they don't allow you to reach them in any other way except through feelings.
During their 10 years of musical activity the Icelandic group managed in touching hundreds of thousands of listeners around the world with only their music as an advocator. Against human's natural urge, and music lovers in particular, to define everything and put it into well labeled drawers, the band created a unique musical experience, which includes a language the majority of their fans doesn't understand, minimal illustrated CD's covers without almost any writing inside, obscured identity of the band's members and mainly the music, which doesn't apply to any obvious musical structure, and succeeds in avoiding any genre. Sigur Ros simply ask the listener to stop thinking and float with them in the atmosphere without the need of holding anything for balance.

The new double album "Hvarf-Heim" is released next to the documentary film which accompanies the band's tour in Iceland. The two CD's include old material which was not released until now; the first one contains live acoustic performances of songs from previous albums and the second includes rare recordings of music written over the years but not issued in the band's official discography.
Sigur Rós maintain their musical direction in the current album as well – songs which evolve slowly and gives the listener an experience which probably resembles a trip through the Icelandic landscape, gentle beauty mixed with unrestrained brutal force. The studio album reveals 3 excellent tracks which were unjustly kept from the band's devoted fan base, the other two tracks "Hijomalind" and "I gear" are the weaker parts of the album, and are somewhat boring. On the other side there's the live acoustic CD which though doesn't bring any distinct new sound to the band (you shouldn't expect nirvana's unplugged on this one), succeeds in creating a new feeling of intimacy that appears once the group is stripped down from their electric guitars and polished studio sound, the combination of the beautiful songs with this added new feeling make this live CD a very recommended buy for Sigur Ros's fans.
The album "Agaetis Byrjun" which came out in 1999 revealed the world with the band's unique sound along with one of the great masterpieces of alternative music. Its beauty will no doubt continue to cast a shadow and create comparisons with any new material the group releases, but that's how masterpieces work and it shouldn't keep the world from enjoying Sigur Ros's hypnotizing music. Hvarf-Heim is everything you can expect from the band and in this case it's not a bad deal at all.

Ofir Shalev

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