Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós makes beautiful but utterly confounding music. The Reykjavik, Iceland, band's songs often snake through eight to 12 minutes of near-orchestral prog-rock. Lead singer Jon Thor Birgisson has a startlingly high, feminine voice; he also prefers to make an instrument out of his voice, forgoing lyrics in either English or Icelandic and creating his own celestial language of sounds and codes. Even more bizarre, the group chose not to name its latest album or any of its eight soundscapes that one hesitates to call "songs." Press folks refer to it by default as ( ), an allusion to an icon on the album's packaging. You could say it's alien lullaby music. Here's a question: What the hell does it all mean? The answer will disappoint you.

"They're not anything special," says multi-instrumentalist and primary keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, 25, a former kindergarten teacher. "It's just music. We like people to have their own opinion.

"We get together and pick up the instruments," he continues. "We usually just jam for a while, and a song gets created ....there's no rule about it. It's all very natural."

Who knew Icelandic oddballs and Phish shared so much in common?

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