Music

Sigur Rós: Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do

Michael Beaumont

Sigur Rós

Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do

Label: Geffen
US Release Date: 2004-03-23
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

This was always Sigur Rós's fate, I guess. Soundtrack work. Who out there didn't see this coming? If there was one band that matched the cinematic style and drama of say, Vangelis, than who better than these Icelandic visionaries with vocals of made-up languages and grandiose swells of crashing fury?

And so it is. With Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do, Sigur Rós have compiled new music for the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, and one is left to ponder if the music would be better listened to with the expected accompanying visuals. Nevertheless, Sigur Rós do produce some compelling compositions here, even with the expectations set high after two stellar full lengths.

The EP opens with the delicate "Ba Ba". With just the quietest synth drone and then ever so gentle Björk-like music box tinkering, Sigur Rós begin the proceedings on a very nimble note. Eventually the chimes build on each other before a more purposeful synth bed forces its way in and handles the duties of the song's main driving melodic force, even if that melodic force is akin to a particularly dramatic moment on a later episode of Miami Vice. Things get more interesting when the crackles, buzzes, and clicks break through at the song's middle section to add some texture, before the more forceful synth beds reappear. It ends up being compelling by about the fourth or fifth listen, which shouldn't come across as a negative. Sigur Rós are definitely staking new ground for themselves here. For a band that has relied so heavily on drama and BIG music, this is definitely a risk for them. For they are relying on music so delicate that it is almost the antithesis of anything they have done previously.

"Ti Ki" opens even more delicately than "Ba Ba" as the music box carries the melodic duties on its own for a good two minutes before the electronics come in and begin to chop, splice and pull.

This music is cyclical music, with each phrase being looped and repeated while changes take place subtly, even discreetly. But the phrases pile up and segments move in and out of sync in time so that the song contains a sort of movement that it wouldn't otherwise possess. The occasional melodic synth bed stakes its claim as foreman, holding the whole job together while the delicate chime-like elements attempt to build something out of the tiniest fragments.

In this context, "Di Do" opens almost violently with static and fuzz, as eventually distorted, Neanderthal-like voices attempt to verbally express the album's title: "T -- Ti-K --... Di --- Di.Do,,, -- BaBA". Eventually getting the hang of it, the voices fall into a sort of rhythmically trancelike state where the Neanderthal vocals, synth beds, chimes, static, music box, and newly present feedback all come together for a grand finale of perfect harmony. That is until about two minutes later when it all collapses in a wail of noise and acid-drenched destruction.

If you were to put this little EP on whilst doing, say the dishes, you are almost guaranteed to, if not openly dislike it, than at least be decidedly underwhelmed. If however, you were to give it a few listens with your focused attention, then there is a lot to be admired here. The problem lies in the fact that owning this EP is almost entirely worthless as the odds of it being pulled out of a stack and played on a regular basis is almost nil. This music should be experienced as part of a live piece, a performance that can be appreciated and then left behind. Considering that this is also the intention of the music as a soundtrack to a dance piece, then (although I haven't seen the dance piece) I have to give Sigur Rós a passing grade here. It's a multifaceted work, which is almost entirely at odds with their previous material, but Sigur Rós have managed to make it grand nevertheless.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image