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Angels of the Universe

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Album Review

The soundtrack for Iceland's much celebrated film Englar Alheimsins (Angels of the Universe) lives up to the lavish praise with an overcast and ethereal score composed by a startling duo of Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Sigur Rós. With a story revolving around a man losing his mind, this marvelously stark musical accompaniment was certainly essential to the experience. Hilmarsson seems perpetually in tune with the film's despair — "Nidurlæging," "Stigið Niður Til Heljar," "Máttleysi" — all written with such a complex mixture of opaque strings and acoustic guitars that one imagines the composer having a tragic breakdown of his own during the songwriting process. Sigur Rós has two pieces at the end of the soundtrack as well. While both were originally recorded for the band's Ný Battery EP, they work in equal measure here: "Bíum Bíum Bambaló" is a long, hypnotic interpretation of an ancient Irish-Icelandic lullaby (making it the first time the song has been transferred from oral tradition to record), whereas "Dánarfregnir Og Jarðafarir" (Death Announcement and Funerals) is a slightly more prog-rock take on a Jóni Múli Arnason composition (Iceland radio service used the original track to relate daily deaths and arrangements). As one can guess, Englar Alheimsins is far from an uplifting experience, yet its stirring, remarkable melancholia is something valuable for anybody in the mood for something strangely special.

Angels of the Universe, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson
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