Hilmarsson, Hilmar Orn & Sigur Ros : Englar Alheimsins

Icelandic orchestral baroque-rock fandango proves less than thrilling, surprise...

If not quite fame, it’s at least a classic case of credibility by association. Rumours persist that following their high-profile support slots with Radiohead, Sigur Rós are being courted by a number of big-shot American labels the likes of Capitol and Interscope all dead-set on snapping up the Rós for a lucrative Stateside deal. What one of Interscope’s Vice Presidents, Mr Fred Durst, thinks of this band of angel-faced Icelandic post-rock choirboys is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for sure, the score to cult Icelandic film [I]Englar Alheimsins [/I](meaning [I]Angels Of The Universe)[/I] is hardly going to get those cash register sounds ker-chinging in his head.

Writer Einar Mar Gudmundsson based the storyline around his late brother’s descent into madness, so a light-hearted compilation of your favourite indie hits is most certainly not on the agenda. The bulk of the score comprises original compositions by one Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, a one-time member of industrial cultists Psychic TV now making a living as one of Iceland’s most prolific film composers. His 15 tracks are, let’s just say, adequate score material; melancholic, orchestral, largely unobtrusive, and out of context, largely forgettable.

Meanwhile, the two Sigur Rós tracks have been previously available on the ‘Ny Batterí’ EP. Still, this never claims to be new product; rather, Sigur Rós’ involvement in [I]Angels Of The Universe[/I] is the surest sign yet that they’re nailing their colours to the doors of the arthouse.

Pretentious? [I]Mais, oui[/I]. Sigur Rós are certainly guilty of several cardinal sins including pomposity and high seriousness but when they hit their stride on record, they’re more than capable of dwarfing all those skinny-wristed Slint fetishists with some real elemental noise. The splendid ‘Dánarfregnir Og Jarõarfarir’ is a take on traditional Icelandic funeral music, infused with the same holy madness that powers Mogwai’s already near-legendary frenzied live cover of a Jewish hymn. Meanwhile, the distant drums of ‘Bíum Bíum Bambaló’ turn an ancient Icelandic lullaby into an altogether more desolate affair, snaking tendrils of chill feedback creeping in to obscure frontman Jon Por Birgisson’s

reed-thin falsetto.

Fuel to the fire of Sigur Rós’ stellar

cult reputation but for ‘Angels Of The Universe’, it’s too little, too late. Fred Durst probably got ten minutes in before flicking his hi-fi off and rummaging through

his Jean-Claude Van Damme collection,

and frankly, we’re with the big guy on

this one.

Louis Pattison