Tuesday, February 10, 2009


49. Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust by Sigur Rós

Welcome to the new world of post rock. Every genre encounters, as it progresses and rises in popularity, a line that unmistakably separates the mainstream from the underground. From that line on, the genre will be irreversibly changed. It will be played in malls. It will be a sub-category of pop. The number of artists preforming in it will exponentially rise. Punk crossed this line. So did electronica, hip-hop, hardcore and indie rock. Way back when, rock, jazz and the blues crossed this line. I assume at one point even baroque found itself mutating into a more concert-hall friendly version of itself. Welcome to the selling out of post rock.

One could argue that post rock will never be a commercial success, and one could just as easily argue that it already has. Sigur Ros, after all, have literally been featured in commercials, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor was approached to advertise cars (they declined, naturally). One could argue that [i]spilium endalaust[/i] is so far from the early days of Mogwai, Mono and Tortoise - and even the band's earlier albums - that it could hardly be considered post rock anymore. But that just avoids the issue at heart. And honestly, I don't think it's an issue to be avoided. I think this progression of post rock into the mainstream's eye and heart is something to be celebrated. And this is an excellent album to celebrate.

I remember [i]Takk...[/i] being heralded as Sigur Ros emerging from the depression of [i]( )[/i]. I disagreed with the sentiment of these reviewers, I thought [i]( )[/i] was an absolutely wonderful album, but I couldn't help but agree that [i]Takk...[/i] was certainly sunnier. Looking back now, [i]Takk...[/i] downright weepy, compared to overload of joyfulness seen here. It's cheery, bouncy and random in the sort of silly way that Animal Collective can be. More than all of that, though, it's grand.

It's grand like a large carnival or, borrowing a title, a festival is. "Festival" itself is suitably grand. The band played around with rapid crescendos and acceleration in [i]Hvarf-Heim[/i]'s "I Gaer", but the song doesn't rocket into a spiral of guitars and drums, it more pops into a kaleidoscope of music. This idea is repeated several more times throughout the album, and each time still manages to be a surprise.

It's grand like the Grand Canyon is. Majestic, huge and hard to even see in its entirety yet a simple enough concept - it's a big crack. When the orchestra in Ara Batur to an absolutely dizzying number of musicians and singers, it's near impossible to take in the entire scope of it. And yet, you understand instantly what's being done.

It's grand like a grand romantic gesture is. Grand like the sudden announcement of dinner reservations at the town's best restaurant. Grand like a wedding cake. Grand like a honeymoon to the Bahamas. It's intimate, yes, but intimate in a way that's so sweeping and overbearing that the point reaches well beyond any sort of personal touch. The band seems to almost have lost their ability to be anything but majestic and powerful. Even when slow and quiet, they display their slowness and quietness with such decisiveness that it can sometimes sound anything but.

Luckily, this confidence is founded in solid songwriting and performance talents. Sigur Ros seems to have sold their soul to the devil for fame, and he has gifted them the ability to produce an album like this, so majestic and accessible that any listener could fall in love, but at the cost of all the innocence, nervousness, mysterious and humbleness they displayed on earlier albums. This seems to be what must be done to bring post rock to the masses, and maybe it will end up being a disaster. But this album, still a work of creative genius and undeniably emotional throughout, has proved that this journey into the limelight cannot be all bad.

next one idk when.

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