Fat Cat – 2001 – 41 minutes

After the unexpected success of 'Agaetis Byrjun' last year, Icelandic band Sigur Rós must have anticipated that some fellow native musicians would come running with offers of collaboration. Prolific composer Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson won the race, it seems, and the result is the soundtrack to one of Iceland's most successful films of all time, 'Angels of the Universe'.

This album, however, is largely dominated by Hilmarsson, who won European Film Composer of the Year in 1995 for his work on the Oscar-nominated 'Children of Nature'. Sigur Rós' contribution is limited to just two tracks out of a total of seventeen. Situated at the end of Hilmarsson's efforts, 'Bíum Bíum Bambaló' and 'Dánarfregnir Og Jardarfarir' (which underscores the listed 'Death Announcements and Funerals') are certainly worth the wait.

This is not to take away from Hilmarsson's endeavours which, if assessed as a unit, evince a range of powerfully poignant emotions. The bulk of the composer's efforts are nothing more than a series of musical vignettes (one piece is only 35 seconds in length), but each has a strange capacity to elicit a range of responses in the listener. Admittedly, there is an element of repetition in many of the pieces, but this is nitpicking. Effectively, this is the soundtrack of a country: at once sparse yet rich, unwelcoming yet beautiful.

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Approach/Dream - Memory - The Black Dog and the Scottish Play - Degradation - Over the Bend - Colours - Journey to the Underworld - Shave - On the Road - Another Memory - Relapse - Coma - Schiller in China - Helpless - Te Morituri - Bíum Bíum Bambaló - Death Announcements and Funerals