The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'sigur rós'
Your Humble Narrator went to see Sigur Rós last night at Somerset House.
The support band was one Amina Strings, who are also from Iceland and have played and collaborated with Sigur Rós quite a bit (I recall seeing a flyer for a gig they did up in Scotland some years ago). Four women who seem to be a string quartet who picked up other instruments. Their set involved them playing various sorts of string instruments (including violin/viola/cello and some sort of harp/koto-like ones), plinking away in synchrony on chromatic percussion, playing a saw with a bow (think Delicatessen; it makes one wonder whether it was an ordinary hardware-shop saw or whether there's a place somewhere that sells special tuned saws for musical use), doing various things on an iBook, and bringing out a Casio VL-1 at some stage, set to Rock 2 (that's the Wöekenender loop). They weren't all that far from Múm territory.
Next up there was half an hour of weird, glacial drones played through the PA as people went to buy overpriced Carling lager in plastic cups. (Aside: Carling is rubbish; it's not so much a generic beer like Carlton Draught, as a homogenised, heavily carbonated piss; probably a similar concept to the US Budweiser, which I've so far managed to avoid. Carling, however, own the live music scene in Britain, and are harder to avoid.) Then Sigur Rós came on. The first thing I noticed was the frontman playing his guitar with a bow. Not one of those E-Bow magnetic devices, but an actual cello bow. The guitar in question looked very traditional, redolent of the blues/rock heritage of the American south; the juxtaposition of it being played with a bow seemed rather postmodern. That's not the only weird thing he did with his guitar; at one point, he held it to his face and sang into the strings.
Sigur Rós played for about an hour and a half, including two encores. They were accompanied by Amina Strings during some of the songs. They played some old favourites (including Svefn-g-Englar and the first two tracks of ()) and what seemed to be some new tracks. One of them sounded a lot more approachable, and almost like a Doves track; perhaps it's a consequence of them having signed to EMI? Anyway, the light show was pretty good too, with the colours (deep golden greens and icy blues) and visual projections (ghostly processed images of moving people and jerky video of electric pylons) going quite well with the music. More photos here.
I just picked up the new Mogwai album, Happy Songs for Happy People. I was surprised to find an insert in the album stating that the CD comes with a demo version of Cubase SX and the multitrack audio files of the first song on the CD, required to remix it. The Cubase demo is PC-only, so I don't get to see how the damned thing works under OSX, where most of my plug-ins can't go. The separate files are all .wav files, though, so if you don't mind not being able to load the .CPR Cubase SX project, you can still have a go at them. (Btw, Cubase SX files appear to be a RIFF data type; maybe some penguinhead will reverse-engineer them in due time, at least well enough to import them.)
Anyway, it's an interesting experiment; giving songs for the fans to remix like that. I can't see the copyright-crazed majors allowing their chattels to do something like that (i.e., if Radiohead did that, it'd probably come with a special rights-managed remixing program which ran only on your Trusted PC™ and let you give a few play-once low-bitrate Windows Media copies to a handful of friends before self-destructing), but I think it makes sense for indie artists. Mogwai probably have more to benefit from a fan-made remixes of one of their songs floating around the MP3 nets and being played by laptop-glitch DJs from their Ableton Live-equipped iBooks than most artists; much in the way that Björk has to gain from all the bootleg remixes of her songs floating around.
As for the album: haven't heard the whole thing yet, though it sounds good. It seems that the detour into Radical Jewish Thrash Metal that was My Father My King was just that, and the album is a progression from Rock Action; if anything, it's more introverted and subtle, though in a good way. In places they're starting to sound a bit like Sigur Rós, though.
Speaking of Sigur Rós, I also picked up their Sigur 1 - Sigur 9 single, which came with a DVD of videos. The one for Svefn-g-englar is not bad, and quite apt; it basically has people dressed up as angels moving about in slow motion around an Icelandic landscape, under a volcanic cliff and a featureless off-white sky. (The video was a US import, where they are released through MCA/Universal, which is presumably why it's a Region 1-only DVD.)
(Interesting that Mogwai hail from Scotland and Sigur Rós hail from Iceland. I wonder how long until a post-rock band emerges from the Faroe Islands, a point roughly halfway inbetween.)
(): may cause drowsiness, nausea, and in some rare cases serious complications with the liver have been reported. Side effects similar to that of Vespertine. Do not take () if you are currently taking Slowdive. Ask your doctor if () is right for you.
Heh. Speaking of which, there should be a bit of Slowdive and the like in my DJ set next week; quite possibly a few of the rarities will get spun. Watch this space for details.