written, produced and performed by sigur rós
engineered, mixed and co-produced by kenneth vaughan thomas
assistant engineering by marco migliari
strings and arrangements by amina
mastered by mandy at the exchange
recorded at sundlaugin
artwork by sigur rós, alex t. and d.c.
jón þór birgisson - voice, guitar, keyboards
kjartan sveinsson - keyboards, guitar
georg hólm - bass, keyboards, glockenspiel
orri páll dýrason - drums, keyboards
maría huld markan - violin
edda rún ólafsdóttir - violin
ólöf júlía kjartansdóttir - viola
sólrún sumarliðadóttir - cello
tracklist & samples
- untitled . 06:38 mins . sample: mp3 | windows media | real media
- untitled . 07:33 mins . sample: mp3 | windows media | real media
- untitled . 06:33 mins . sample: mp3 | windows media | real media
- untitled . 06:56 mins . sample: mp3 | windows media | real media
- untitled . 09:57 mins . sample: mp3 | windows media | real media
- untitled . 08:48 mins . sample: mp3 | windows media | real media
- untitled . 13:00 mins . sample: mp3 | windows media | real media
- untitled . 11:45 mins . sample: mp3 | windows media | real media
photos taken in and around the studio
sigur rós graffiti spotted around the world
about the album
( ) comprises eight untitled songs which sigur rós have been playing at concerts in the past 2-3 years. a 30 second period of silence divides the 71 minute album in two halves, each half containing four tracks. the first half is light and optimistic while the second half is bleaker and more melancholic, "plays more with your emotions", as jónsi worded it. there is some experimentation of instruments in the first half of the album, with some sampling of jónsi's voice and more emphasis on keyboard than guitar (drummer orri plays keyboard on tracks 1 and 3). there is more of the typical guitar, bass and drums line-up on the second half, jónsi bowing guitar as usually.
comparing ( ) to the band's last album, ágætis byrjun, it can be described as more minimalistic and atmospheric than its predessessor. it's a rawer and darker album and considerably less accessible than ágætis byrjun; drum beats are usually slow (tracks 1 and 3 are drum-free) and the songs take their time to progress into the trademark sigur rós emotional climaxes, making for a more challenging but more rewarding listen. with its intense highs and lows and its mood ranging from brittle to brutal, ( ) is very much a headphone album.
the album's entire packaging is completely free of text and markings. you won't find album credits or tracklistings anywhere on the album. the only thing representing the album is jónsi's handwriting of "sigur rós" on the front cover and a symbol cut out in the slipcase most accurately described as a pair of parentheses, or two semi-circles. the symbol can be interpreted as either an emphasis on the album's untitle (the listener is free to make up his/her own title since there is essentially none) or an emphasis on the division of the album, the two semi-circles symbolizing the album's two halves. or maybe it doesn't "mean" anything. every listener is of course free to make up their own mind.
there are no lyrics on the album. jónsi sings in the made-up "language" which the band calls hopelandic. this is of course not really a language in that sense, since it is essentially just babbling vocals that fit with the music, like another instrument. since there are no lyrics, the listener is invited to write in or illustrate his/her own interpretations of the songs onto the blank pages in the album's 12-page booklet. sigur-ros.com featured an interactive option where fans could send in their own lyrics and a computer program recongised the most common words and phrases to form the actual lyrics.
artwork on the album (which is basically just the image inside the parentheses and the spreads in the booklet) is based on photographs the band took outside their studio in álafoss, which they have manipulated and distorted to their liking. the images are close-ups of natural elements such as grass, bushes and ponds. four different versions of the album's packaging will be distriubted around the world, one in each of the following regions of the world: europe, america, australia and japan. iceland won't have its own special packaging but all four versions will be available to buy there. there are different images inside the brackets for each region and the spreads will also differ.
( ) is the first sigur rós album which was recorded in the band's converted swimming pool studio in álafoss, mosfellsb×r (a small rural town located near reykjavík). the band calls this studio 'sundlaugin', or 'the pool', and the studio has its own website up on sundlaugin.com. the album was produced by sigur rós and engineered by ken thomas, who was also their engineer on ágætis byrjun. on the majority of the album the band is accompanied by the string quartet amina, which comprises four icelandic young women [you can read more about amina here]. ( ) was mixed at peter gabriel's real world studios and mastered at abbey road studios.
quotes from the band about the album (taken from various interviews 2001 & 2002)
"we didn't want to put titles on the record just because there are supposed to be titles on the record. besides, when i refer songs to my friends i always say "check out track 5", or whatever." (kjartan)
"i think it's nice to have no titles on the record, it's just the music. but it will be interesting to see how it goes, it's probably going to be difficult for the radio people. nothing to hold on to, just music." (jónsi)
"the production on ( ) is a lot less polished than on ágætis byrjun. the sound is much more bare and alive and there are far fewer little slick things and much less sweet stuff. i think playing the songs a lot at concerts and then recording them hasn't been a very thrilling experience for us. next time we'll record the songs as we make them. try to keep them fresh for us." (jónsi)
"i think when people listen to our music they take us as really serious persons, they put us in that "composers" and "artistes" league, which is crap. we make fart jokes all the time you know, we are not very serious people. when we make music there is nothing behind it, there is no concept at all." (kjartan)
"we feel this album is a progress from the other album. we didn't *try* to develop of course, it just happens. it's difficult for us to explain how or why progress is made because we never think about what we're doing when we make music and we never analyze or discuss our music among us." (kjartan)
"we took 2 weeks to record the strings for ( ) but we had to do them in 2 days when we did ágætis byrjun. we used people from the icelandic symphony orchestra for ágætis and they had to have everything written out note by note. this time we used the girls that have been touring with us and just let them "jam" in the studio until everybody was happy." (jónsi)
"the recording process was faster on ágætis byrjun, for example we did the bass and drums in only one weekend. this time we spent more time looking for the right sound and mood. the songs have become really old now and we've played them so many times so it was a bit difficult to get in the right gear to start recording them." (jónsi)
"we don't care about the media's expectations of this album, we just did this album like we wanted it to be and that's it. we're confident it's a good album. aren't follow-up albums always criticised anyway?" (georg)
"the only expectations we have to deal with for this album are our own. we never think about things like the expectations other people have towards us. we released a good album last time and we did even better this time." (jónsi)
"it's pretty fun confusing people with having no titles on this album. the listener just names the song based on what he or she hears. we of course have our own names for the songs but we probably interpret them in a different way than other people." (jónsi)
"we really loved the responses to ág×tis byrjun we received from foreigners. we got all kinds of interpretations from people who didn't understand icelandic and thought we were saying other things and it turned out these people were interpreting the songs based on their own lives and atmospheres, which was very precious for us. this is partly the reason why we decided to give people the chance to write their own lyrics in the booklet." (jónsi)
"i think our music is really simple, a little bit naïve. we like to kind of look at different areas, explore things, just like children do." (jónsi)
"the booklet in ( ) is empty so people can write down or draw their interpretations of it. it's a kind of "human experience". everyone has their own opinions and when people buy the album it's kind of unfinished so people have to finish it themselves. it's not the singer telling stories, it's sort of a soundtrack for each person's life. so they can write lyrics for their own lives." (jónsi)
below are are the titles the band has for the otherwise officially untitled songs themselves. they need something to write on the setlist, don't they?
untitled 1 - vaka (the name of orri's daughter)
untitled 2 - fyrsta (the first song)
untitled 3 - samskeyti (attachment)
untitled 4 - njósnavélin (the spy machine)
untitled 5 - álafoss (the location of the band's studio)
untitled 6 - e-bow [georg uses an e-bow on his bass in this song]
untitled 7 - dauðalagið (the death song)
untitled 8 - popplagið (the pop song)
some songs from ( ) were written a few years before they were recorded. fyrsta (track 2) was first performed in 2000 and underwent several changes until it was recorded in 2002. you can download the 3 main stages that the song underwent in the recordings below.
2000 first version, basic instruments only - live in gaukur ł stŁng, reykjav═k
fyrsta 2001 drumless version, with samples and strings added - live in laugardalshŁllin, reykjav═k
fyrsta 2002 final version, with an alternate vocal bridge added - sundlaugin studio, iceland
ordering ( )