to say that sigur ros is being deliberately obscure on its new record is an understatement.
forced to give the disc a title, the icelandic avant garde pop band chose "( )," which i guess means it's called parentheses. but they're just using it as a symbol. you certainly won't learn anything more from the cdpackaging. not one word is found on the cd insert, just blank sheets of nice drawing paper with a few embossed images of winter trees.
there aren't any song titles on the package because the eight compositions on "( )" don't have titles. and, if you want to know the minimal lyrics, you have to go to the sigur ros web site to find them.
but the music on "( )" isn't about lyrics. rather, it is about soundscapes, put together in the converted swimming pool that serves as the band's studio. while the songs don't share the repetitive structure of their music, my ears hear what's on "( )" more like an operatic offering from philip glass or steve reich than any other pop act.
on one song, a piano provides the melodic line, on the next percussion, synthesized music and vocalist jon por birgisson's ethereal vocals pull the listener into another drifting sonic space. then the mood turns a little organ mournful and so on, with three of the tracks 10 minutes or longer. like i said, this is nothing resembling standard pop music even though sigur ros is seen as one of today's hippest bands.
my guess is you will either find "( )" entrancing as i did or it will be a very lengthy irritant. such is the nature of music made on the cutting edge, and that's where sigur ros finds itself.
(l. kent wolgamott )