Recordings of whale calls aren't for everyone. Neither is Iceland's Sigur Ros. But those hooked on this symphonic rock quartet -- whose glacial sound mixes Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine and various 4AD atmosphereniks -- are unlikely to find another group even remotely similar. With eight nameless songs, crooned in a made-up language against a backdrop of cathedral organs, doom-laden strings and twisted guitars, ( ) is a difficult proposition for even the hardest of diehards.
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Still, if you can survive much of the album's ambient serenity, you might just get a glimpse of nirvana. Case in point: The eighth track is an overflowing prog-rock Vesuvius, harnessing Burundi drums and guitars reminiscent of crude Sonic Youth. It's stunning in both depth and beauty, and establishes Sigur Ros as the kind of band that comes along all too rarely.