Two Nights of Sigur Ros

I have always admired Sigur Ros, a unique signature style that could only be hatched in relative isolation. Anytime a song would come across during get togethers, a good friend would offer that seeing the band live was one of the most cathartic and moving experiences, but the stars never aligned for me to see them. When the two-night stand at ACL Live was announced, my friend insisted on getting great seats and sharing that experience. The stars further aligned to allow me attend both nights, the first taking photos to be followed by the full show experience.

I have the gallery, I have the memories, I have the goose bumps, I have the memories of hugging friends at intermission…

Click through for a few more thoughts on the night some photos.

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Festival Recap: Day 3 of Primavera Sound

Photo by Eric Pamies

Photo by Eric Pamies

Last Saturday in Barcelona was the last day of the main festival of Primavera Sound. For me, while day three was still filled with big names to catch on its program, was definitely the underdog of the day-by-day breakdown, but it turned out to be possibly my favorite day. I caught classic acts in new ways and newer acts in classic ways. Follow the jump for coverage of the last main day of the 16th edition of Primavera Sound.

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FT5: Music DVDs

We’ve been running ATH for awhile now, and honestly, getting ideas going for my scheduled Top 5 this week has been a little tougher than usual.  I guess that’s just another reason to be excited for the future since we’ve brought on some new talented writers recently who can stir up the pot and help me break through my creative block.  So as I started brainstorming for this week’s list, I was shocked to see that we’ve never created a list of Music DVDs.  Sure it’s a massive topic, but I’m narrowing it down with things that hit home with me and may not necessarily be “the best” by traditional standards.  For inclusion in this swanky list, I’ll stick with DVDs I actually own or borrowed for an extended period of time.  I’m also a stickler for sound quality and personal touches, so you’ll be seeing those in each spot.  Creativity and forward thinking in presentation also can’t hurt.  Follow the jump for full list.
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New Tunes from Jonsi

jonsiAs there seems to be a temporary lull in the career of Sigur Ros, their members seem to be making the push forward with music of their own. Jonsi has  a new album coming out in March on XL Recordings, and oddly, this opening track seems similar to a more symphonic Mew piece, which also features lyrics in English!  It’s really like the soundtrack to Peter and the Wolf meets Mew. Try it.  And find Go, the album, out March 22.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Jónsi-Boy-Lilikoi.mp3]

Download: Jónsi – Boy Lilikoi

Sigur Ros @ MoMa

I know I know. We post way too much about this band, but this may be the best thing we’ve posted yet!  Sigur Ros recently performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and The Current website has been kind enough to post the entire live performance on their site. The show took place on Icelandic independence day (June 17th). Live footage of the show looks eerily familiar to the 2007 documentary Hlemmur (arguably one of the best band docs ever made).

Sigur Ros – med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust

Rating: ★★★★☆

This band is epic. Given the task of singing “Happy Birthday” at an 8 year old’s birthday party, they could likely stretch the performance several minutes with multiple movements involving choirs of children and the London Sinfionetta. (see Ara Bitur`) That is just the natural skill of this foursome from Iceland. And though they showcase that skill in several areas of their new album; med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust, they have expanded their repertoire with looser, shorter, more traditional songs this time around.

The first track/single “Gobbledigook” isn’t quite their attempt at Ipod commercial appeal, but at just over three minutes, they might finally get to play on Letterman. In fact, there are only four songs on the album clocking in past five minutes. The single uses heavy percussion, alternating acoustic guitar lines, and harmonized vocals to create something… fun. Somewhat of a departure from the glacial, sparse musical landscapes they have focused on with their past five albums.

Building on the same theme, the second track is Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur. Though accompanied with brass and string sections and a soaring vocal melody, the driving force in this track is the bassline, piano, and four on the floor drumbeat.

Fans of the traditional epic sounds of Sigur Ros will also find much to enjoy on endalaust. Five minutes into Festival, the bassline and steady kick drum start the final build. Symphonic horns and strings add from there. Vocal harmonies, additional horns, and seemingly whatever other instrument is lying around the studio, take hold of the simple melody and build it to a stunning climax.

For me, the peak of the album comes with the turning point in Ara Bitur at four and a half minutes through the song. A simple piano line is augmented with lightly struck bass, and Jonsi’ Birgisson’s repeating vocal is suddenly accompanied with an entire symphony and children’s choir. At its peak, the song features 90 musicians playing at once. Recorded in one take in the Abbey Road studio in London, this is most epic track on the album.

In several niches of popular music, you can find dramatic shifts in loud/soft dynamics with bands like Explosions in the Sky, or even certain tracks like “Everlong“ from the Foo Fighters, but songs like this show just how far above their contemporaries Sigur Ros can be. It is tough to describe the resulting energy in this song relative to where it begins. Just make sure you only listen to it on empty desert roads with no speed limit, or seated comfortably in your home. But turn it up.

So with endalaust, Sigur Ros have shown that while they can narrow their scope and create succinct, meaningful, and well constructed songs that open them up to shorter attention spans and wider appeal, they are still kings of the epic.

New Sigur Ros Single

Sigur Ros just released a single off their forthcoming album with a title so long I won’t even attempt to reproduce it here. Apparently the album is being produced by Nine Inch Nails producer Flood? Go figure… The new single “Gobbledigook” isn’t like anything you’ve heard the band do before. Go here to pre-order the brand new album out June 23rd.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/gobbledigook.mp3]

Download:Gobbledigook.mp3