who knows what sigur ros singer jon thor birgisson is actually singing at any given time -- at least anyone outside hopeland, the imaginary realm whose imaginary language he uses? but throughout this album's closing, 12-minute piece (the songs, as well as the album, are without titles), he sings a two-syllable phrase that sounds more or less like "you sigh."
and you probably will sigh listening to this recording -- rapturously if you found the soundscapes of the icelandic group's "ág×tis byrjun" wonderfully entrancing, perhaps just sleepily if you found its pace tedious. the musical evolution of sigur ros seems to move at a fittingly glacial pace, and new developments on this album are subtle, though not insignificant.
the overall effect is the same, the feeling of being enveloped by waves at once icily numbing and warmly comforting, with birgisson's high voice and atmospheric bowed guitar the central features. but there's added structure now, as the pieces (eight of them averaging nearly nine minutes in length) rise from brian eno-like ambience to drum-burst flurries recalling icelandic composer jon leifs' impressionistic portrayals of the island's vulcanian tempests. in fact, the crescendo of track 7 might actually make you gasp as well as sigh. sigur Ros plays the wiltern theatre nov. 19 and 20.