January 05, 2002

Hilmarsson and Sigur Ros "Angels of the Universe OST"

I'm not gonna go on and on about the greatness of Sigur Rós, because, frankly, I remain unconvinced. Sure, they're making some beautfiully challenging music, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. They're critics darlings, but I'm not quite convinced that they are the Norse gods descended to our mortal musical realm.

I'm also not quite sure about this soundtrack, either. I've never heard of Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, but from what I've read, he's an accomplished composer. And, to be honest, I can see why. The tracks on this album are, in a word, stunning. Orchestrated, cinematic, and bleak, they help to paint a picture of what the movie must be like--either bleak or heavenly, take your pick. These pieces do have a certain sense of heavenly quality to them, but not in a good way; I don't know why, but I keep thinking that these are the sounds of the destruction of life, and, at times, remind me of the score of Schindler's List, though without the happy endings. Nothing more to say about them other than if you want a slice of heaven, you won't find it here, but you will get the feeling that you've just left the earth and are about to find out what the afterlife is all about.

Sigur Rós have a tough act to follow, but they follow in rather well, and, briefly, it might be noted; their compositions number but two on here, and occupy the last two tracks on the album. I can't say if they are either good or bad, as I've never heard their other work, and I have nothing to compare them to, and I know that one of their selections, "Death Announcements and Funerals" was widely received in Iceland and in Europe. It's based on the radio theme to the local death and funeral annoucements in their homeland. Odd, that.

Though this group remains a mystery to me, partially by choice, Angels Of The Universe is actually a very pretty, yet rather subdued album; the inclusion of Sigur Rós is interesting, though, to be honest, it seems like a bit of a cash-in on their name, as it seems that they did very little of the actual music for the soundtrack. Still, it's not a bad album at all, and can create a very bleak, yet ethereal mood in no time at all. It's one of those rare soundtracks that actually makes you interested in trying to see a film you'll never see.

--Joseph Kyle

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