There was a time when I thought that Sigur Ros was the brightest star in the musical sky. It was somewhere after the release of their astounding second album Agaetis Byrjun and a little before () actually hit. At the time, I'd heard advance tracks from the latter release and was convinced it was the best thing they'd ever done. After hearing that full length, I found myself amazed, but not quite like the first time I'd heard them, and 2 years later much of the luster of () has worn away, even to the point of me having to skip tracks because they do so little for me.
Although they are working on a new album currently, Sigur Ros seems to know that fans need little nuggets of music to sate their appetite once in awhile and so they not only scored an obscure film (Hlemmur), but dropped the CD/DVD Untitled EP last year. Both of the aforementioned releases found the group toying with new sounds, dropping their signature dense sound for more stripped-down and even partially-improvised sounding tracks.
The Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do EP basically continues down that road of more space and electronics and less of what the group made a name for themselves with (including the otherworldly vocals of Jonski Birgisson). Although the tracks are meant to be played in any order, there's a clear build in sound when listening to them on the EP, and to be honest the effect doesn't vary that much anyway. The opening track of "Ba Ba" is probably the most successful of the three, fluttering gorgeous chimes over soft washes of sound and manipulated voices and piano. It peaks ever so slightly at the end with layers of music boxes, but still fails to go much of any place.
"Ti Ki" fares even worse, taking the simple tones of a music box and processing them into a minimal, glimmering wash as meandering piano plays over it all. The darn music box is back on "Di Do," and here the group takes the syllables of the song names and programs them into a slowly-building track that feels like a much less effective version of what Asa Chang And Junray did so well on their Jun Ray Song Chang release. When it comes down to it, the release isn't horrible, but given past work by Sigur Ros it's a serious letdown. The fact that there are lots of other artists doing similar work to this and doing it better is another reason to simply steer clear unless you're simply a hardcore fan who has to have everything. Hopefully they can find a little more focus before their next full length.