Sometimes, the most useful music is soothing white noise that you can chill to -- or simply ignore. Sigur Rós is pretty good at making that kind of ambient background drone, but it's always only a matter of time until the band drops a crescendo of simulated whale-song. For pure, uncut Icelandic bliss, check out Amiina. Rós fans probably already know the group's work; the four Reykjavík ladies played strings on Rós' ( ) album, and since 2005, they've been collaborating with Rós on its new disc.
Comparisons are inevitable, although Amiina's strings-based work lacks Ros' signature bombast. Amiina's lullaby-like material stays quiet, and the group's lyrics seem to consist of actual words from a real language. What's more, they generally use song titles that read like items from the Ikea catalog: "Ugla" -- the song, not the shoe rack -- starts with gentle keyboard noodling, then builds with water-glass tones. The delicate "Skakka" sounds like the splashing drops from a melting glacier. And the twinkling "Fjarskanistan" could be the name -- or national anthem -- of a country whose landscape consists entirely of clouds.
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