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December 17, 2007

CD Review - Sigur Ros

Hvarf/Heim (CD)Heima (DVD)Sigur Ros(EMI)Sigur Ros requires patience and attention. Their grand, iconic compositions move like a glacier, inching along mountain terrain to alter, forever, the landscape underneath. Or, they move like unhinged clouds in the sky, where structure is less of a concern than mood or vision.    It doesn’t help casual listeners that the group sings in its own language, a hybrid argot called “hopelandic” that redirects your ears to the power, tone and emotion in the voices, rather than the words being sung. This sits well with Sigur Ros’s worldwide fanbase, who does not feel compelled to decode them.    Hvarf/Heim is a studio effort released in companion with Heima, (meaning “home”) a concert film combining footage from a series of free, unannounced shows in Iceland at the end of the band’s 2006 world tour. Listen to the album, and it stands proudly with the others in Sigur Ros’ catalog: Lush, forward-thinking, compelling.    Watch Heima, and you see Sigur Ros in its full, demystifying context.    It tracks the band through shows in isolated, abandoned fishing warehouses, cramped town halls and verdant open fields. In one inspiring moment, the group waves off performing with a PA to play an entire set acoustic on a mountainside threatened by development.    By and large, the live footage shows the band unencumbered by its signature kabuki drop and stunning laser-light show. One-on-one interviews find the members speaking barely above a whisper of their career, and the theories behind its tour of homebase, and the postcard-ready shots of Iceland bring a new, less cynical meaning to the phrase national pride.