I was in New York on Saturday, so I stopped by Other Music and picked up Change as well as Born Into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward, the new Silver Mt. Zion. I can’t stop fucking listening to Change. To me, it’s far more immediately likable than Emergency & I was, perhaps because it’s a bit less hyperactive. Whether I like it more in the long run is up in the air, but man… I’m really digging it right now. Little bits of “Time Bomb” and “Ellen and Ben” keep getting stuck in my head. And I can’t help but smile to the lyrics of “The Face of the Earth”, which are just absurdly bizarre - telling the story of a girl who literally gets sucked off the face of the earth.
It does strike me that parts of the album, like some of the vocal melodies in “Following Through”, seem almost mainstream, and the album has definitely (as endless reviewers have already noted) moved away from the band’s pseudo-emo sound on Emergency & I. To a more “mature” sound, lots of people have said, but I don’t know what the hell that means. In any case, I think I like this move, and I have little fear of the band going too mainstream, because the vast majority of the album is just amazingly creative.
My one complaint: all those nifty keyboard oonts and groonts on Emergency & I are gone, for the most part. Oh, not entirely; for example, “Ellen and Ben” has some cool bleeping, but there’s nothing that compares to the bass-range belching from “A Life of Possibilities” or the depressing haze from “The City”. Oh well.
On a whim I picked up the soundtrack to Angels of the Universe, apparently one of the highest-praised Icelandic films from the past few years. It’s done by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, but Sigur Rós contributes two tracks at the end. My initial reaction is one of frustration; there are some really beautiful moments, and I really like the acoustic guitar tone that’s used on a few of the tracks, but all of the tracks are so damn short that it doesn’t allow for any melodic or compositional development. Grr. The Sigur Rós tracks, though, are fucking great, and are by far the best pieces on the album. Go figure.
On another soundtrack note, I got that Magna Carta Soundtrack for the Wheel of Time, which in all but name appears to be a Robert Berry solo album. I expected it to pretty much suck enormous balls… I basically got it because I used to be a huge Wheel of Time fan (until the last few books started, well, sucking enormous balls). The prospect of pseudo-Celtic-prog-metal-lite doesn’t sound all that appealing to me, especially with the huge potential for pretentiousness given the nature of the books. I was mildly surprised - there are parts that are, not surprisingly, really cheesy, but there are also some pleasant parts. There are also a lot of parts that are really “soundtrackey” - you know, they’re really dramatic and big (complete with tympani banging like distant thunder, blah blah blah), but at the same time sort of unobtrusive and clearly meant to be an accompaniment instead of the main attraction. Which is sort of weird, since this album isn’t really a soundtrack, unless you consider the idea of a soundtrack to a book to be equivalent to a soundtrack to a movie. I don’t.
Um, so, do I like it? Not really - the music avoids cheesiness for the most part, but it tends to be very bland - but nevertheless, I definitely like it more than I expected to.
I love the Alamaailman Vasarat T-shirt design. I’ve e-mailed the band for ordering info but they haven’t gotten back to me. Arg… I want one.