October 14, 2009

Sigur Ros//Svefn-G-Englar, Gobbledigook

It seems like we're having kind of an experimental week, and who am I to blow against the wind? SoSB made me think of Bjork and Bjork made me think of her ambient post-rock Icelandic brethren, Sigur Ros. These two musical entities are more related than just being from the same country--Sigur Ros got their start on Bad Taste Records, owned by Bjork's band prior to going solo, The Sugarcubes.

Interestingly, this band has its own word for a kind of scat-like language they use in certain songs. From Wikipedia:

Vonlenska is a term used to describe the unintelligible lyrics sung by the band, in particular by Jón Þór Birgisson. It is also commonly known by the English translation of its name, Hopelandic. It takes its name from "Von", a song on Sigur Rós’s debut album Von where it was first used.

Vonlenska is a non-literal language, without fixed syntax, and differs from constructed languages that can be used for communication; it lacks grammar, word meaning, and even distinct words. Instead, it consists of emotive syllables and phonemes; in effect, Vonlenska uses the melodic and rhythmic elements of singing without the conceptual content of language. In this way, it is similar to the use of scat singing in vocal jazz. The band’s website describes it as “a form of gibberish vocals that fits to the music” Most of the syllable strings sung by Jón Þór Birgisson are repeated many times throughout each song...

Their sound has progressed and morphed from when I first heard them (Ágætis byrjun). Those beautiful string-heavy sprawling ambient anthems have become more melody-driven. It was hard for me to choose which song to feature here, so I think I'm going with these two and taking the day off tomorrow. SLACKER! JOKES. These songs are both masterpieces with completely beautiful videos attached to them.

With "Goobledigook," the big single from their most recent album, you can hear how they've kept up with the sound that's currently defining indie rock. Of course, "Svefn-G-Englar," with its pretty radiating tones and enigmatic chorus of "it's you" will always be a favorite. Ali and I used to sing just this line to each other often, circa 2002. Those were the days.



Sigur Ros's next album, currently untitled, is set to release sometime in 2010.

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