Englar alheimsins (Angels of the Universe)

~ Release group by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson & Sigur Rós

Album + Soundtrack

Release Format Tracks Date Country Label Catalog# Barcode
Angels of the Universe CD 17 FatCat Records FATOST-CD01 600116111128
Angels of the Universe Digital Media 17 FatCat Records FATOSTDA01
Englar alheimsins CD 17 Krúnk CDKRÚ001 5024545105322
Englar Alheimsins 12" Vinyl 17 FatCat Records FATOST-LP01X 600116110138
Angels of the Universe CD 17 FatCat Records FAT1102 600116110190


Allmusic: http://www.allmusic.com/album/mw0000805933 [info]
Discogs: https://www.discogs.com/master/9632 [info]
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0233651/ [info]
reviews: http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/rdp2 [info]

CritiqueBrainz Reviews

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Originally released on Sigur Ros's own Krunk records, this soundtrack to one of Iceland's most successful films finally gets a UK release, courtesy of the superb Fat Cat label. The majority of the album is taken up with sometime Psychic TV/Current 93 member Hilmarsson's incidental music, with two songs by everyone's favourite Icelandic neo-progrockers rounding it off.

Hilmarsson's work is characterised by brooding, hovering strings (electronic and acoustic) worthy of Part, Taverner or even the less abrasive bits of Penderecki, coupled with a gift for simple, evocative melodic writing. Discreet, atmospheric electronics shadow violin, guitar and occasional percussion as the (mostly short) tracks work through a set of variations of the opening theme. "Over the Bend" is peculiarly beautiful; clouds of strings are gradually joined by glitchy, distressed electronics and treated tribal drums, like a cheese-free version of William Orbit's take on Samuel Barber. Equally lovely are "Colours" and "On the Road", both built around the same lush baroque chord sequence - imagine Michael Nyman's soundtracks for Peter Greenaway minus the smugness and you get the idea.

Maybe following the films plot (a study of one man's gradual descent into schizophrenia), things get a bit dissonant later on with "Relapse" and "Coma" with fractured electronics breaking the surface, forcing the strings into violent eddies of glissandi. It's this kind of stuff that works least well outside the context of the film, and the brevity of the tracks doesn't really allow you to engage with them before they're over.

The Sigur Ros songs are predictably epic slices of oceanic, yearning atmospherics; less expansive (and expensive) than those on last year's Ágaetis Byrjun perhaps, but none the less powerful for that. Both tunes (previously available on the now deleted Ny Batteri EP) are rooted deeply in Icelandic tradition; "Bium Bium Bambalo" is derived from a popular lullaby, and "Donafregnir Og Jardarfir" is based on the music which accompanies the daily Funeral Announcements and Deaths read out on national radio. As usual, it's not what they do rather than the way they do it that makes Sigur Ros such a seductive proposition; like the Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine or even the Smiths, they've managed to create a musical vocabulary that's pretty much their own that sounds totally unforced. Recommended.