Sigur Ros & r & & r & Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust & r & & r & 4-1/2 STARS & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & P & lt;/span & icking up where this year's teaser Hvarf/Heim left off, the latest release by these majestic Icelandic musicians overwhelms anew. For the long-term fans, this release reaffirms all that they have known about the power of music as a means of ecstatic experience. And for the newcomers, there has never been a better time to jump on the bandwagon.
Despite the fact that the majority of us do not speak Icelandic, there is no reason to let such trifling nothings interfere with one's enjoyment of the music here. Of the 10 songs in question, none fails to stretch the listener's imagination; none fails to force the listener's participation. Whether on the irresistibly titled "Gobbledigook," the nine-minute "Festival," or the album's two title tracks, each half creates an aural universe that the listener must complete. Set to upbeat, happy, buoyant melodies, the songs showcase a band that revels in setting standards.
-- CAREY MURPHY
DOWNLOAD: "Ara Batur"
The World Ends With You (Original Soundtrack)
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & L & lt;/span & ike movie soundtracks, videogame soundtracks create moods. But they also need to be infinitely replayable for those sequences where pacing is determined by the player's skill, not the actor's dialogue. This usually leads to relentless rhythms and undistinguished melody loops, and half of The World Ends With You fits that formula. Japanese sirens croon Engrish rhymes over techno beats. But the other half is as good as contemporary videogame music gets. The World Ends With You's best music is willfully fresh, mixing J-rap and J-rock with funky jazz. Nearly a third of the tunes last less than 60 seconds, making them ideal playlist mixers, while some of the longer numbers approach Pizzicato 5 (at their edgiest) or Cornelius (at his gentlest). Listening to videogame music through stereo speakers amplifies the genre's technical limitations -- instead of louds and softs there are dense and thin moments -- but it's still surprising how much music can come from one tiny toy.
-- MARTY DEMAREST