Sigur Ros - Hvarf/heim
For this review, I'll copy what's written on the press release that came with the promo and then add my thoughts in the last paragraph.
The Hvarf / Heim release is comprised of two EP's. The title of the first, Hvarf, translates appropriately as "disappeared" as its five tracks are new studio recordings of lost songs from various points in Sigur Ros' history. The first three, "Salka", "Hljimalind" and "I Gaer" were never released either because they were not recorded, or because they were and then not included on a finished album. The fourth and fifth songs, "Von" and perennial live favorite "Hafsol" are radical and complete reimaginings of songs from the band's first album, the original versions of which were recorded by the band's Jonsi Birgisson and Georg Holm with drummer Agust Gunnarsson prior to Kjartan Sveinsson and Orri Dyrason joining the band.
An alternative translation of Hvarf is "Haven", which ties into the title of the second disc of this release, Heim, or "Home". Heim's six tracks are live acoustic versions of songs from all four Sigur Ros studio albums recorded in Iceland during the band's summer 2006 tour and early this spring. The unplugged scenario had been pretty much imposed on the band, there being no power at some of the locations. "Vaka", "Samskeyti", "Agaetis Byrjun" (never performed live before last summer) and "Heysatan" were played acoustically on the road during their summer tour, with the remaining "Staralfur" and "Von" being first interpreted for a protest concert against a planned road development.
With that information at hand, let's see what we really have here. The 3 original tracks, theoretically the meat of the EP, are all typical Sigur Ros, and sound like straight leftovers from the "()" and "Takk" sessions. "I Gaer" and it's rather imposing doomy atmosphere leaves the biggest impression. The reimaginings of "Von" and "Hafsol" are far more interesting and rewarding, especially the former, it being one of my favorite Sigur Ros songs and this version is as faithful as it is a totally new beast. Final score for this half of the EP would be a three, considering I expected much more from the "new" songs. The two reworkings save it from a middle-of-the-road 2.5.
The 2nd half is certainly more enjoyable to this long-time fan, if only for familiarity's sake. They managed to get a couple of my most-liked tracks on it, "Staralfur" and "Von" being those done the best in their unplugged setting. It's also wonderful to have a live recording of "Samskeyti", one of the most heart-wrenching piano melodies that could only come from a place like Iceland, really. Their music translates wonderfully in this setting and does no harm to the originals, in places making them more real and relatable to the listener. This half of the EP is the superior one and gets a solid 4.
This EP is definitely worth owning for Sigur Ros fans and dabblers alike, but for newcomers, it would be a safer bet to go back and time and check out "Agaetis Byrjun" or "()" instead. This EP wasn't made for the newcomers, it was made for the fans. On that level, it gets the job done.
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on 2008-07-17 SolitaryMan Said:
No. To be honest, I used to take the time to see what the translations were, but I've lost some of my love for the band since Takk. I do know there's a song or two in their invented "Hopelandic" gibberish-language, which permeated their "( )" release. I love the way it sounds, even if it doesn't mean a thing.
on 2008-07-17 dscanland Said:
I've been listening to this album lately and although my Icelandic isn't really that great but it sounds like the lyrics end up repeating A LOT! What exactly do they mean? Did you find that Solitary?
on 2008-01-16 dscanland Said:
Someone has to have heard this. Please let me know if it is worth picking up. Or is it just a collection of crap that didn't make their albums?