It’s true that Takk…’s lyrics are mostly translatable, having been written primarily in Icelandic as opposed to the band’s made up language of Vonlenska favored on the earlier album, (). (There are several moments when Birgisson breaks into the scatted combination of English, Icelandic, and Gibberish, but I personally can’t tell the difference anyway.) However, I’d rather not bother with translation because apart of the beauty for me listening to Sigur Ros is in not understanding their words. I experience the vocals far more like a breathy solo instrument. In fact, it’s not even always as the primary soloing instrument, but one of many adding to the texture of the piece. And so, the only word that needs translation from this album is the title itself: Takk means thank you.
And what a thank-you it is, whether this album is meant to be directed to life itself, or god, or loved ones, the entire album is packed with beauty and a magical sense of thankfulness for all that is around us. At least that’s what I feel when I hear it.
Today I needed to experience the great outdoors. It was an absolutely beautiful, clear, cold day in Vancouver, and I had only been out to buy groceries and empty to compost bucket. I knew I would be listening to Takk… this afternoon, and that it’s not a terribly productivity inducing collection of songs, so I put my headphones on and journeyed out into my neighborhood before darkness would inevitably take over. It was a good plan. I’m sure that it didn’t hurt that I headed out during magic hour – just as the sun was beginning to set and bathe our icy streets in warm orangey light – but it also is true that noticing and imagining beautiful things is not an uncommon activity when Sigur Ros is in ear-range.
I took my camera, and even thought about making this one a photo blog, but alas my batteries died, and Beth took the card-reader on her Christmas vacation to Saskatoon. Perhaps another time with one of Sigur Ros’s many fabulous records.
Takk… like the majority of Sigur Ros’s music is extraodinarily ethereal. I knew right away that they would have to make my listmas, and simply chose my favorite album. I’m sure my going out near dusk must have persuaded my mind to consider that this album expresses a kind of threshold experience. It can’t just be me either, since the cover art pictures a stencil of a person walking under an archway of tall plants. The songs themselves effortlessly bleed into one another, and as transitions are made within pieces, sometimes I’m not sure whether or not a new track has begun. The music on this album creates a mystery that reminds me of Narnia’s wardrobe. “Glosoli” in particular has me wonder if the air around me is an illusion, and if I look close enough I might find a hatch into some magical kingdom. I feel like a little kid.
As I zig-zag through the streets just east of my house I’m full of wonder for the world around me. I’m terribly aware of my inner-child whenever a xylophone or the higher octave on the piano is played during the first several tracks. “Hoppipolla” makes me want to dance in the rain, as does the next track, “Med Blodnasir”; “Se Lest” makes me want to run through a park with a kite or maybe a dog; “Saeglopur” makes me want to climb a tree and yell at the top of my lungs; all of them make me wish I were listening to this CD in a giant sandbox or cushion-made fort. If A Rush of Blood to the Head was black and white, Takk… is the opposite, full of life and colour and magic. It’s really only a matter of time before a feature film decides to use Sigur Ros alone for their soundtrack. I’d watch it, no matter the premise or plot.
“Milano” strikes me as slightly more reflective than the other tracks, and though I can’t understand the lyrics I find myself thinking of Christmas Day in all of its chaos, remembering the beauty and love that I have experienced through my nephews and niece. (My, they are working their way into this blog more than I expected!). “Gong” changes pace and mood, adding to the dream-state a sense of threat, as all great fantasies must have.
There is a certain amount of energy that is kept up throughout the album until “Advari”, which plays more like a lullaby, and Takk… retains this mellower sound through to the end (even when “Svo Hljott” gets huge with sound it feels rather sleepy). That’s ok by me though, as I’ve returned home to warm my circulation-challenged fingers and toes. I watch the world fade to darkness from the heated side of the window, curled up in blankets. It’s as though my Takk… experience was only a dream, and it has coaxed me back to sleep only to wake up to a more familiar reality. All this time we have been searching the backs of our closets for secret entrances, when all we needed to do was put Takk… on the stereo.