As much as I enjoy listening to music, I haven't often written about it on the B-List. To rectify this, I will start posting "rough guides" to artists that I like a lot, but may not be that well known. And to kick things off, I'm going to feature a band that I only got into recently: Sigur Rós. The band comes from Iceland, home of Björk, The Sugarcubes and Emiliana Torrini, among others. A former workmate put me onto the band. According to Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigur_Ros> "Sigur Rós are an Icelandic post-rock band with melodic, classical and minimalist elements." The music is not easy to describe, but it is often very atmospheric, laid-back and contemplative. Other adjectives people have used include: ethereal, eerie, melancholic, uplifting, dreamy, and gloomy. Music, like other art forms, is subjective, so not everyone will react to it the same way. The band's name translates to English as 'Victory Rose', and is the name of the singer's young sister. In addition to the standard guitar, piano, bass and drums, the band uses instruments not normally found in rock music, such as a bowed guitar, glockenspiel, flute, brass, Hammond organ and even a toy piano. The band is often accompanied by a string quartet. The singer uses a falsetto voice, and sings in Icelandic or a variation of gibberish that has been given the name "Hopelandic". A couple of years ago the band released an interesting music DVD called "Heima" ("at home"), which documents a special tour of their native Iceland. Basically the band went around to various places around Iceland and performed free concerts for the locals. The DVD shows some of the unique landscape of Iceland, as the band performs in some of the more remote and unusual locations on the island. Clips from "Heima" will be used as the basis for this rough guide. There's a website for the DVD, which contains more information about the tour and the DVD: <http://www.heima.co.uk/> The links in the guide are to movies on YouTube. If the links are blocked, try the "Video" link on the Heima site to view the trailer: <http://www.heima.co.uk/video/> You can also select some background music by the band while visiting that site. Now, on to the "rough guide" ... 1. Starálfur <http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=_sUVm77WjE0> This clip is from "Heima", and is representative of the band's style and tempo. The girls in the string quartet are actually part of a band in their own right (Amiina). The original version of the song is on the band's second album, "Ágætis Byrjun". The studio version also featured in movie, "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou". 2. Svefn-g-englar <http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=rWR-jJ3v1pk> Another song from "Ágætis Byrjun", this is a longer epic in a live setting. This version shows how the guitarist/singer uses a bow to create some of the sounds. The studio version is also featured on the "Vanilla Sky" soundtrack. 3. Ágætis Byrjun <http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=mYA-PG_6ERA> A live performance (from the BBC Electric Proms) of the title track from the second album. 4. Glósóli <http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=4HqcjgJCDuw> This is a single from the band's fourth album, "Takk...". It's used here as the background music for a trailer for the BBC series, "Planet Earth". 5. Vaka <http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=VqoLDc_7nLQ> This is a song from the band's third album "()", and the clip is an acoustic version from "Heima". Not long after filming, the valley where the band performed was dammed and flooded to provide power for a new factory. 6. Hoppípolla <http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=vH-jfqNjegY> This is the official music video for another single from "Takk...". 7. Samskeyti <http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=YRB7fx0QqgA> An intimate, moving performance from the "Heima" DVD. The original version of this song appears on "()". 8. Von <http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=hme5jf2Z_ow> This is a reworking of the title track from the band's first album. The clip is also from "Heima". Sigur Rós has just released a new album, which starts off a bit more mainstream than the material featured in this post. On later tracks the band returns to its more familiar sound. Coincidentally, you may have heard about impact of the financial crisis on Iceland, e.g. see: "Iceland Won't Default on State Debt, Premier Says" <http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=a3llLVzKd1k8> The country's three largest banks have massive debts and the value of the currency has plummeted. This is disastrous for the citizens of this remote island country: many have lost their savings, and the prices of imports have skyrocketed.