Sigur Ros

( ) (MCA)

Bowling for Columbine
Recordings of whale calls aren't for everyone. Neither is Iceland's Sigur Ros. But those hooked on this majestic symphonic rock quartet -- whose glacial sound mixes and matches Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, and various 4AD atmosphereniks -- are unlikely to find any other group even remotely similar. Which doesn't necessarily make any of Sigur Ros's albums consistent or engaging. With eight nameless songs split into two extended four-song suites, crooned in a made-up language against a backdrop of cathedral organs, doom-laden strings, and twisted guitars, ( ) is a difficult proposition for even the hardest of diehards.

Still, if you can survive much of the album's Low-like ambient serenity, you might just get a glimpse of nirvana. Case in point: The eighth track is an overflowing prog-rock Vesuvius, harnessing driving Burundi drums and guitars reminiscent of Glenn Branca and crude Sonic Youth. It's stunning in both depth and beauty, and as such, establishes Sigur Ros as the kind of band that comes along all too rarely.

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