`Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do' was originally composed for the Split Sides performance of the Merce Cunningham's Dance Company(loosely it is a company that bases itself on free expression and merges all types of the arts; music, painting etc as one whole). Sigur Ros and Radiohead were two bands considered to improvise pieces for the performance, and instead of choosing one; they decided to choose both bands and have each of them compose 20 minutes of music for this 50th anniversary performance. (Radiohead's music, although performed at the shows, was never released.) They performed their masterpiece in October 14, 2003 in New York and December 2-7 in Paris.
On thinking about what to write, they decided to draw inspiration from John Cage, a man who had also wrote many pieces for Merce and his dancers. Cage often used everyday sounds in alot of his works, and Sigur Ros wanted to experiment with the same ideas, while putting their own spin on it and infusing this idea with their own sound. Their instruments were a a piano, two hand cranked music boxes that created a lovely melody when played forward, and a rachety sound when cranked backward, and eight ballet shoes that were installed with pick-ups on them for percussion. They also used samples of the dancers and Merce Cunningham's own voice. The music and the choreography were independently composed aswell, and introduced to each other on premiere night, leaving room for improvisation and letting Sigur Ros focusing on the dancers and forming their music around them, instead of the other way around.
The three songs that resulted from this are designed to be played generally in any order, and have a sort of looping quality to all of them. There is no distinct break between tracks, it all moves with such loquacity which adds to the overall theme of the album, which is nothing short from magical.
The album is mostly focused around the music boxes. (very reminiscent to Mike Oldfield-Tubular Bells) They provide this innocence and warmth and delicacy throughout the piece. The first track is so fragile and beautiful, and seems to pick up and flow with such emotion as only a Sigur Ros song could do. You can hear the rachet noises and the ballet shoes, and all of it seems unreal, often hearing almost infant like noises in the background. As the music floats along into Ti Ki, you can hear faint brooding noises that add a feeling of eerieness to everything that is going on. You cant help but still be with the innocence of the music boxes, and just try to ignore the feeling that there is an ominous end to this unwordly music and feeling. The haunting music builds and unleasehes itself in the last movement, Di Do. Static lashes out, along with Merce's voice coming through, unclear at first, repeating the album name. A high pitched feedback comes in at various points, turning into what sounds like a horrifying scream. I always get goosebumps during this point, as everything builds and the evil takes over. Underneath, the music boxes can faintly be heard, playing the same melody that had carried through the previous two pieces and you latch on to it, focusing on the one thing that is wholly pure throughout everything. The voices and droning eventually fade out, and the naive, still delicate music boxes remain, playing the familiar way they always had been, only instead of having this unknowing, innocent, warm feel to them they seem almost eerie themselves, with a strange ominous feeling surrounding them, eventually fading out.
Although this wasn't necessarily supposed to be the follow up to the band's truly amazing release, ( ), Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do is just as good, if not better. Even if it is only 20 minutes long, the overall theme takes you far beyond just "listening", you can feel the pure emotion in the music, which is far beyond words. This album is nothing short of (another) masterpiece from Sigur Ros.