Barbara will tell you about her own (and very nice) winter record next time. This is my first winter record. I hope there will be others. About two years ago I got Agaetis Byrjun and I liked it quite a lot. I mean, a band that sounds like Slowdive can't be bad. My friends in love with the Godspeed You Black Emperor! girls said it sounded too expensive and that they couldn't stand the singer's high-pitched voice. I think that Constellation records fans are the worst kind of fans. Not only are they fans but they think they are part of some kind of musical elite. Losers. This is in no way a critic of Constellation records or of their rooster. I love some, think others boring. Anyway. Fat Cat. Fat Cat is probably like a London-based Constellation. Less lo-fi, less humble. That's London for you. I don't know any Fat Cat fans, and I really don't want to meet any of them. But, seriously, one can only be impressed by the albums put out recently by this label : Múm, XINLISUPREME, Set Fire to Flames and Sigur Rós. Dum dee dum, here's the review :
I liked Sigur Ros' second lp but seeing them live made me realize that they could be better than the band playing on the disc. Even if they didn't reach GYBE's trance-level, there was something going on during their live rendition of Hafssól from Von, their debut lp. And I think they realized it as well. This album is as otherworldly as Agaetis Byrjun, but with less strings, less arrangements, and almost no audio engineer tricks. I've heard a couple of bootleg recording of their latest shows, during which they played most of the songs that are on this album, and it sometimes feels like it's been recorded live. Apart from sped up vocal tracks (at the end of the first song and throughout the album) and a few other discreet arrangements the songs have not been altered.
Idea one : no title for the album, no titles for the song. Idea two : voice as an instrument and nothing more : vocal parts are sung in "hopelandic," an imaginary language they already used in some songs on Agaetis Byrjun. I don't see how anyone could have any problem with that. The album evolves from slow, gentle songs to behemoth-like monster songs. The three first ones are really quiet numbers. I really like the sped up vocals thing they do at the end of the first one (formerly known as Vaka). The second one (f.k.a. Fyrsta) is drowned in reverb (like most of the album, but i like reverb) and as a result it sounds like the music for a Twin Peaks episode. This track makes me think of a less minimalistic Stars of the Lid, which is good. Fyrsta melts into the beginning of the third song (f.k.a. Samskeyti), a delicious delicate track lead by a beautiful piano part, slowly blooming into one of Sigur Rós' best tracks to date. Track four (f.k.a. Njósnavélin) is my least favourite on the album, despite the lovely end (starting at 4:50) with the harpsichord. There is a 1:30 break after this song, to show that the first part is over and that the big songs are coming. The fifth song (f.k.a. álafoss) is a slow, dark and melancholic drowning song slowly undressing, finally revealing its bare dark beauty in a contained explosion. Track sixth (f.k.a. e-bow) is my second least favourite. I like its glorious end with delicate arpeggios and awakening drums. The two final songs (f.k.a. the death song and the pop song) are just brilliant. The two previous "part 2" songs were just teasers compared to these two majestic tracks. Both are more than 11 minutes long and really tight. The tension builds up throughout the death song and you can't do anything but wait for the release. Listening to this tracks makes you realize what is probably the main reason why the singer doesn't sing anything with meaning : he doesn't need it to convey feelings. The last track is a great closer, it starts in a less intense way than the death song but it changes into a much more frightening track along the way and finally explodes while the singer's voice floats miles above the band.
/oct 15th 2002/