Being an elf was once three-fourths of being my self.
Candles have been placed; there are at least eight in this room. A ceremony was requested, so we asked the organs to come in and shine a pathway up twisting stairs. To let us know, because otherwise we're in the dark. There's something inside, regardless of language or religious denomination, that something inside is scratching its way trying to get out. I've been recently developing a theory (a whim, really) about the inner elf. Each person has within them this elfin creature that sometimes is more in control of the person than others. There are ways to get more closely in contact with this inner being, some ways are through music. ( ) is Sigur Rós' third album. And somehow, despite my not speaking Icelandic, despite my inherent resistance to claim that I have the ability to understand anything on any level, I feel I understand what's being communicated here.
A righteous path may be a dark path indeed. We're all looking for something in this world. Opening people up, looking inside with a critical eye, always for the creature within the creature. I've heard it called the Cat Inside, with technology we call them gremlins. Throughout history in a variety of forms they have appeared to our ancestors, our contemporaries. Some theorists posit that even alien-sightings are an expression of the elf mythology. Mescalito, spirit of the vegetation. Peering out, watching the individuals pass by. But this is externalizing. I was talking about the elf inside. There are experiences I've had, that I know others have had, whereas the level of communication between two peoples is elevated. Something else has taken over, there's this magical crispness in the air, something almost like static electricity. In the case of male-female relations, it is one of those moments where I look into the girl's eyes, and behind those ocular cavities I see pure, unadulterated magic. The real sparkle of all time. That is the elf inside.
The reclusive gnome reveals itself often in archetypal situations, arising from the as-of-yet-still-unproven-and-unperfected-concept of the collective unconscious. Music, somehow, has the power to ignite such situations. I first picked up on this effect while listening to Tortoise's TNT for the first time, have since made it my obsession in life. I simplify my genre-classifying to psychedelic or not-psychedelic. Sigur Rós is highly psychedelic. They open the doors of Chapel Perilous and leave them open.
The songs that make up this album are untitled. Untitled in release form, anyway. Those of us who have been blessed with opportunity to see Sigur Rós live will recognize most, if not all of these songs from the recent tours. A Sigur Rós live experience is a beautiful thing indeed. The music arises from them like tentacles, or waves, or transient foreign false memories, and the swell of e-bow, the mysterious babbling of Jónsi, somehow these things all come together to create very powerful experiences. And while I know the working titles for many of the songs on this album, I am not going to list them here, because the band has declared them untitled and thus they are, regardless of what they were. I will also not discuss how each particular song sounds. I am not trying to spoil this album for you. I am just responding to it.
There are elves in this music. They come from beneath static, and unexpectedly. There is a world inside the music that standard speaker systems will never allow to be fully expressed. Headphones are required to hear the numerous adornments made. I find it to be no coincidence that a song from Ágætis Byrjun was called "Staring Elf."
All truth be told: I am afraid I am losing the elf inside of me. It's as if he is less and less at the controls, helming the ship, pointing me in the right direction. I look inside, and I try to find the voice and it's not there. I close my eyes, and the movies don't play. I still feel sensitive to phenomena, but I never feel like I'm getting even a good reception to the picture. I forgot to mention previously more of my theory of elfishness: I believe (as much as I can believe anything, a statement like "I Believe" from a "person like me" is a misnomer) that the elf inside me is what communicated with the elf inside another, and through this communication a bond -- a love supreme is born. What happens when I lose the elf? Do I lose love? Do I ever get it back? What has made it disappear? Am I living a life not on the proper path? Am I wasting my time in life? Have I not utilized the meddle inside of me to create the things some cosmic coincidence office wants me to create? What the fuck is wrong with me anyway?
This album is separated into two parts. The first four songs are the so-called "quiet" side, then there is a pause of thirty seconds, and we move on to the "loud" side. The loud side isn't necessarily consistently loud. Instead, it is more of warning as to the emotional intensity of the songs to be found here. These are the things that develop in the dark corners of the mind. Think of the first half as perhaps the White Lodge, the thirty seconds in between as the Waiting Room, and the second half the Black Lodge. My thoughts have followed this trajectory, too I think.
It would not be untrue to say that some of these songs in the second half are outright menacing. But that's the nature of consciousness. You take the sour with sweet, even if it means a black eye and a sore nose. The strings here seem to have more of an emphasis. Amina rises up, soul truth leaving from the body, leaving it behind like a steaming piece of shit. There is a definite need for escape here. An urgency to where these things are going. Whereas the first half of the album communicates an inner-world, a world of the icons and totems of human consciousness, elfdom, and love--the mystery of the Black Foliage... The ) half of the album is the world, and everything in between our finding happiness within it.
Inside from the no, no happiness here, tonight. Inside from no, we can peek out and see only negativity. Don't Let's Start on that path again, let's walk other paths. Paths with trees that seem to animate in the fog-stuttered nights. Like those times when we fell in love. When I could see your face magnified a thousand times in each miniscule drop of moisture from the fog. The night I did not need glasses to see you, when your mouth (close to mine) found all the right places to start a mystery. When insanity was something far-off, something I wasn't in fear of. Before I fully understood the restlessness of nomadic revery and destruction.
And it raises out, ripping through the skin! The elf has been compounded and hidden for too long! He rips out in his most evil form, laughing, he scratches my face and spits on my shoes. Everyone else is watching, but they only see me making pained expressions. I'm on the bus, I'm on the street, I'm lost, and I'm just another crazy. No one sees the gremlin attacking me, laughing and wounding my consciousness. I will not forget. He takes off, runs down the street.
Being an elf was once three-fourths of being my self.
( ) will be released October 28, 2002.