Postcards From Iceland
Something about the volcanic island of Iceland, rising out of the surrounding icy sea as a final human outpost between Europe and the Arctic, manifests itself in the music of its inhabitants. Takk…, the fourth album by Icelandic soundsmiths Sigur Rós, envelopes their audience in the character of this remote landscape with environmental sounds and ethereal arrangements.Aural tides rise and fall, gently lapping around the ankles of listeners. Momentum builds until a song churns and rises above them, dousing them in spray as sonic waves crash onto the shore. Then the levels recede, and gentle melodies resume the foreground. Much like fellow Icelandic musicians Mâˆšâˆ«m, Sigur Râˆšâ‰¥s create soundscapes in lieu of pop songs. Vocalist/Guitarist Jâˆšâ‰¥nsi transforms his falsetto voice into another mysterious layer of the music, composing his vocals in what he calls ‘hopelandic.’ Strings, guitars, pianos and drums act as the primordial sonic elements of the wind, mountains and sea, carving their own island out of living sound. Songs flow like streams, crawl like glaciers and erupt like volcanoes throughout Sigur Râˆšâ‰¥s’s elongated compositions.
“Takk…,” the subdued intro to the album of the same name, is the shortest piece at just under two minutes. Most of the remainder of the album takes more time to fully develop, as with the epic ten and a half minute “Mílanó” positioned halfway through the album. Tracks like “Glósóli” and “Svo Hljótt” begin as quiet instrumental murmurs that gradually build to a bombarding climax before fading out.
Takk… is an album that, like a painting, must be taken as a whole. The colors and brushstrokes of the musicians create a landscape reminiscent of their homeland.