hilmar örn hilmarsson & sigur rós – angels of the universe

a soundtrack to a film i never saw.

i think whenever i walked into a record store, i had a false memory that i had bought several sigur rós albums. turns out there are none in the collection, except this which only contains two songs by them. i have only recently remedied this situation by obtaining kveikur, which has not yet spun on the laser.

it begins as string-based ethereal orchestral pieces, each one fairly short and seguing into each other seamlessly and somewhat indistinguishable. there is no percussion for some time. it’s beautiful and, yes, evocative.

this shifts a few movements in to include, underlying the strings, an electronic beat of sorts, and hollow drums. the back and forth prominence of these elements is striking; coming to the fore and fading out again, without being woozy. then it briefly sounds like sirens.

occasionally there’s some discomfort and volume, where it feels a bit like being on a choppy sea. the violin becomes less melodic, more in and out of tune. further along there’s a shift to purely percussive moments; but that’s all they are, sets of seconds. i think i had previously said that something (nordic) sounded volcanic, and there’s a fair amount of that here as well. sometimes up close, as though the violence, heat and smell will overcome; other times what i imagine it must be like to stand at a distance watching the orange glow against snow and ice, hearing a faint rumble.

the film itself is apparently about a young guy’s struggle with mental illness. i think it ends in tragedy. you hear that across this album. it was directed by fridrik thor fridriksson, which is perhaps how i came to have this in the collection. one of my clearest and fondest memories, from being not long into uni and forming a strong identity, was when the nova cinema opened in the east end of adelaide city and showed films from across the world. one of the first ones we saw was cold fever, another of his, and a remarkable story.

and so the songs this album ends with are the two performed by sigur rós, written by others. they are more of the post-rock fare expected. now-mainstream rhythm, guitar noise. a little bit of indecipherable singing. punctuations.

thus, it seems odd to me that, after listening to it from start to finish, i don’t feel like i’ve travelled anywhere. how is that?

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