Review Summary: This album isn't just a listening experience; it's a cleansing process of hope and renewal as well.
Sometimes life is stressful, sometimes life is hard. When I’m in the midst of a bad situation that causes me to pause, fall, or even give up, I turn to one of a select few albums that can help me get back up again. These aren’t solutions in themselves but act as a buffer – somewhat of a confidence and strength boost – and give hope to my measly efforts. For the past few years, these albums have pretty much remained the same - a select number of releases that never seemed to get old or let me down. Up until this year, I hadn’t found another to join their ranks despite my continual search. Then one day I was giving this album a proper listen: my attention rose and fell in sync with the builds and climaxes of the tracks. I was enamored; this was what I had been searching for yet had never known how to put words or thoughts to my very desire. From the second the climax of “Saeglopur” descended upon me and filled the very confines of my soul, I knew that Sigur Ros’ Takk…
was going to get me through a lot of rough times.
Given Sigur Ros’ tendency to diversify their sound with each of their releases, it should probably noted that this album borrows almost equally from Agaetis Byrjun
that came before it. Songs contain a mix of piano, ambiance, distortion, and various random additions as well. This album also has a much more song-oriented structure – as opposed to the landscapes created with Untitled
– yet it is still careful not to limit itself by these confinements. Songs can move freely and unpredictably throughout the album, and the lengths for the tracks themselves happen to vary widely throughout, ranging anywhere from two to ten minutes in play time.
The title track opens up the record on a soothing note. The song's soft leanings lure the listener in before the clip-clop of “Glosoli” makes known the inevitable: the listener has begun a journey, and there is no going back from this one. Jonsi’s vocals bubble over the progression that ever so subtly increases in tempo as the track plays through. Once the aforementioned clip-clop sound speeds up, listeners begin to become aware of an impending plunge at the end of the road. The track gloriously explodes, filling those attentive with the soul and magic of the band. Music box jingles exit the composition out, and the hopeful resonance that springs from the piano chords of “Hoppipolla” fill the empty shell that remains of the listener. The track is anything but subtle -a poppy post-rock song, if ever such a thing could exist.
A marching band acts as the precursor for “Saeglopur”, the resonating piano touches of which leave those familiar and unfamiliar with the track in a state awe. An impending tidal wave of sheer musical beauty opens wide the gates of the listener’s perceptions, and the climax of the song floors all in range with its brilliance. The song closes on distant piano chords – the listener is once again a helpless shell on the ground – and the soothing caress of “Milano and “Gong” follow thereafter. These tracks as apprentices to “Glosoli -opening with a piano and ambience for the former, strings for the latter- and act as first-rate examples of just how good this band has become at the slow build to climax finale that they display so much on this album.
Up until now, the listener has experienced a continual rising of their senses that immediately preceded a subsequent flooring by the band’s compositional explosions of sound. As if the band is well aware of this, they offer a reprieve in the form of “Andvari”. The song's soothing six and a half minutes pass by, and the listener is just now beginning to get their bearings back. However, the band is about to entrap the victim one last time. “Svo hljótt” is a moving, emotional piece. The song starts foreboding but peaceful, soothing the listener with kind words of the impending purge: all old things must pass away to make room for the new. The double climax that is found here is emotional; Jonsi’s melody might cause nostalgic memories for the listener to resurface, the band gracefully removes those that are painful with one final cleansing. “Heysatan” closes the process perfectly; the gentle melody breathes life back into the shell, and the restored inhabitant rises and walks away, ready to face whatever comes their way.
Thinking about this record immediately brings a smile to my face as I have enjoyed the very same process detailed above multiple times. Some research on the background for this album has brought to my attention that the word takk actually means “thanks”. How fitting that I had set out to write this on the very same day that many Americans traditionally offer thanks for what they have. While I have many things to be thankful for – friends, family, opportunities, and music in general – I feel I should thank Sigur Ros for creating such a marvelous piece of music. So wherever the band may be, this one is for you guys: