popplagið.com   Sigur Rós Hvarf-Heim CD  reissue - EMI - AUSTRALIA 2009

5099969550225 - 695 5022









'Hvarf' studio album -'Heim' live acoustic album:

 1. Salka (6:09)
 2. Hljómalind (5:56)
 3. Í Gær (6:26)
 4. Von (9:15)
 5. Hafsól (10:46)
 6. samskeyti (5:23)
 7. starálfur (5:28)
 8. vaka (5:20)
 9. ágætis byrjun(6:36)
10. heysátan (4:43)
11. von (8:16)




Sigur Ros release "Hvarf-Heim"An album with 2 titles because it is in effect,2 separate but complementary entities. 2 front cover 2 discs."Hvarf" is a 5 track electric studio record comprising of unreleased and collectable rarities.In fact the word " Hvarf" means "disappeared". "Heim" is a 6 track acoustic record,comprising delicate new unplugged version of some of Sigur Ros' best moments.

Hvarf and Heim are twin Sigur Ros records, released in support of the band's first ever film, Heima. They will be released together on CD on Nov 5, 2007. It's more complicated than this, but effectively Hvarf is the electric side and Heim is the acoustic side.
The five tracks that make up 'Hvarf' are new recordings of songs taken from various points in Sigur Ros's history. Three of them have never been released on record before, either because they were not recorded in the first place, or because they were recorded and then not included on a finished album. The other two, 'Von' and 'Hafsol', are radical reworkings of songs from the band's first (pre-Kjartan, pre-Orri) album, with latter being available in limited form as the b-side to the UK single of 'Hoppipolla'.
'Hvarf' (say "kvarf") means "disappeared", which is what almost happened to this material… It also means "haven", which kind of links it to the concept of 'Heim' (see below)…

Salka (2002)
'Salka' nearly made it onto the '( )' album, but ended up on the mixing room floor at Real World Studios in the early summer of 2003. Named after Georg's eldest daughter, just as 'Untitled 1' was known as 'Vaka' after Orri's daughter, 'Salka' was played live extensively during the touring both before and after the nameless record. It's a great tune and hard to say why it hasn't made it onto record thus far. But, hey, that's been rectified now…
Hljomalind (1999)
'Hljomalind' was known by everybody involved as 'Rokklagid' ('The Rock Song'), until the band had to come up with a proper title for this release. It was briefly called (in English, at least) 'The Rabbit And The Prince', but no-one really felt comfortable with that. The Rabbit was Kiddi, who managed the band at the time the song was written and ran Hljomalind, the indie record store on Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavik 101. The Prince was Valli, roadie, fly-poster and friend to the band. Kaffi Hljomalind is now an organic joint that serves the kind of latte you can't drink two of without suffering a panic attack.
The song was written for the first session off the back of the 'Agaetis Byrjun' album. It was recorded for a possible EP with producer Ken Thomas at Ridge Farm Studios, but the band didn't really like the way it turned out and it got shelved. The song was scarcely performed live, and when Ridge Farm later shut down, even the master tapes disappeared off the surface of the earth. As a result 'Hljomalind' was almost written out of the script.
Truth be told, Sigur Ros are a little bit sensitive about 'Hljomalind', considering it a bit too simple and formulaically structured to get through the quality filter, hence the softly jibing 'Rokklagid' nomenclature. It has, however, had a habit of sticking around, taking on some sort of legendary status among fans, and since, after Hoppipolla, everyone thinks Sigur Ros are a pop band anyway, it was thought that they could put the tin-lid on that reputation with this three-chord wonder.
I Gaer (2000)
Known until recently as 'Lagid I Gaer', 'I Gaer' means simply "yesterday", which seems entirely apposite given the nature of this particular project. Written after 'Agaetis Byrjun' in the same flurry of activity that birthed 'Dánarfregnir Og Jar Afarir' ('Funeral Announcements And Deaths') and 'Bíum Bíum Bambaló' (interpretations / cover versions used on the B-side of the 'Ny Batteri' EP and 'Angels Of The Universe' soundtrack), it forms part of what is internally known as Sigur Ros's brief Prog Rock excursion, which pretty much began and ended with these songs.
'I Gaer' has been played sporadically over the years, largely around when it was first written and more recently on the Summer 2006 tour of Iceland. It remains a highly dramatic and effective piece of music and a time capsule of a direction the band flirted with and then abandoned. Feel that Hammond!
Von (1995)
In 1995 Sigur Ros were scarcely off the concept board. Jonsi, Georg and drummer Agust Gunnarsson hadn't even grown their hair yet, let alone cut it off again. Kjartan was still a way off being a band member, although he would soon join them live - and had himself glorious, gender-defying tresses.
'Von' would shortly be the title track of the first Sigur Ros album (1996), but the version that the band would slowly perfect live – especially after Orri and amiina came on the scene, towards the end
of the last century – would completely eclipse the nebulous, gossamer delicate version on the original record.
This rousing and beautiful live arrangement would become much sought after as a peer-to-peer item, but has remained steadfastly out of the official canon until the boys recorded again it in the wake of the session for 'Takk…'. '
'Von' means "hope".
'Hafsol' (1995)
Finally recorded back-to-back with 'Von' a couple of years ago - partly in order to get the manager off their back, who was forever suggesting that we should give the people what they want and make these two long-held live favourites available - 'Hafsol' is the only real rival to 'Poppsong' ('Untitled 8') as a potential Sigur Ros set closing out-and-out rock song.
Lead by Georg's innovative use of drum stick on bass strings, 'Hafsol' has a mantra-like quality which builds gradually until a mid-song mini dam-burst of energy signified by amiina's emphatic pizzicato strings. Thereafter things continue to escalate until, with dizzying abandon, near cacophony threatens to engulfs the song towards the end of an exhausting 10 minutes, out of which emerges Kjartan's shrill penny whistle coda.
If you seek out the version of 'Hafsol' (as it was then called) on 'Von', it is pretty hard to even identify it as even the same root material. It's fun trying though.

The six songs that make up 'Heim' are acoustic versions of material taken from all four Sigur Ros's albums. They were recorded in Iceland either during the band's summer 2006 tour or early this spring. All songs are live recordings.
A couple of years back, when the idea of making the live film that would become 'Heima' was first discussed, it was agreed that there should be a live album to accompany it. When the band came to listen back to the material that had been captured on the road, however, it was stripped down acoustic renditions of songs that caught their imagination, rather than the electric versions, which always seemed inferior to the album recordings.
Actually, the unplugged scenario had been pretty much imposed on the band, there being no power at some of the locations. Four of the songs here (Vaka, Samskeyti, Agaetis Byrjun and Heysatan) were played acoustically on the road during the summer tour, with the remaining Staralfur and Von, being first interpreted for a protest concert against a planned road development next to the band's studio in the artistic community of Alafoss, back in February 2007.
'Heim' means "home".

'Samskeyti' is that rare thing, a Sigur Ros instrumental. When the band used to play it live around the '( )' album (on which it became known as 'Untitled 3'), Jonsi would sit on the floor holding an e-bow to the strings of his guitar making it sing in his place. Here a mordant harmonium leads us towards Kjartan's super-pretty, circling piano motif, while violins provide the "lark-ascending" top-notes.
This version was recorded at the Gamla Borg community hall, an hour or so outside Reykjavik in April '07, after the audience for the late afternoon concert had already left.
'Staralfur' is one of those Sigur Ros songs that everyone just loves, but for the longest time they didn't play live. A highlight of their break-through album, 'Agaetis Byrjun', it – along with the similarly admired 'Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa' - didn't get performed for the longest time, with the band saying they couldn't do justice to the studio recordings.
Eventually, however, they relented, and 'Vidrar…', at least, became a staple highlight of the band's set. 'Staralfur', on the other hand, only made it into the set infrequently, despite sounding fantastic and always being hugely-anticipated by audiences from the opening piano note.
To hear it played at all is something special. To hear it played acoustically is something that only the handful of people who were either at the Alafoss protest or Gamla Borg show have had the pleasure. This recording was made live on the floor of the band's studio for the film.
The song that started it all. When Sigur Ros decided, on the spur of the moment, to take a detour from their filmed tour of Iceland to go and play at the protest camp at the Karahnjukar dam - which would soon flood many square kms of pristine Icelandic wilderness close to the East Fjords – they took almost nothing with them.
A small generator had been dug into a shallow hole to provide minimal power for the performance, but since the protest was against a dam built to provide electricity for an American aluminium smelting plant, the band decided to go unplugged for the first time in their career.
They played to a hardy audience, numbered in the tens, performing the few songs they had worked out acoustically, but it was watching the lone camera recording of 'Vaka', with mountain wind whistling in the mic, that decided them on the acoustic route for this project.
The version here is not, in fact, the raw, Karanhjukar recording, but another exterior version made outside the band's studio in April 2007. If you listen closely you can hear the birds singing and detect the pitter-patter of the rain getting harder as the song moves on. The amiina girls were so fearful of their old violins, violas and cellos warping in the wet, that they ran off inside the second the tape stopped running. Hush, you can perhaps discern their delicate footfalls…
'Vaka' used to be known as the first track on the album with no name - or 'Untitled 1' on '( )', if you like – within the band and on set-lists it has always been known as 'Vaka'. And so it is here.
Agaetis Byrjun
'Agaetis Byrjun', as far as I am aware, was never performed live until last summer. And still has only been played a handful of times in far-flung bits of Iceland. This take was made in an empty community hall at Vik, anti-clockwise round the South coast of Iceland from Reykjavik. It's the version you will be able to see in the 'Heima' film.
The title track from one of their best-loved albums, it's no secret that 'Agaetis Byrjun' means "an all right beginning" or "a good-ish start". You could say that...
The final song on the band's most recent album, this version of 'Heysatan' was recorded in the middle of absolutely nowhere out on the Western tip of the West Fjords at the bizarre Outsider Art folly in Selardalur (www.pbase.com/tcom/image/73411523). This proved to be an appropriate setting for a song about a happy death in rural isolation.
Interestingly, 'Heysatan' contains the only words in English I know of in a Sigur Ros song (and surprisingly a strange example of product placement in this most anti-advertising of bands), when Jonsi sings of the moribund farmer falling from his "Massey Ferguson" tractor…
This live acoustic version of 'Von' was recorded the same day as 'Samskeyti' at Gamla Borg in April 2007. The idea is that it provides a counterpoint to the electric version found on the other side disc of this collection. Amazing, isn't it? You wait 10 years for a decent recording of 'Von' and then two come along at once!


Sigur Rós Hvarf-Heim MAIN PAGE


Sigur Rós:
Jón Þór Birgisson (vocals, guitar), Georg Holm (bass),
Kjartan Sveinsson (keyboards/piano), Orri Páll Dýrason (drums)