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Amiina: A Dance of Sounds in Space

The Icelandic band Amiina has worked as a string quartet supporting Sigur Ros, but while their music shares roots with their geographic counterparts, the resulting blooms are startlingly different. There's a classical sensibility in Amiina's songs — a delicacy of approach that conveys the sense of a carefully composed, deliberately choreographed experience. But at the same time, it develops organically, layer upon layer, unfurling new leaves of sound and dappled lightness.

"Rugla" begins with a quiet clicking, which is immediately fleshed out by guitar and ringing vibraphone. Spider-silk saw notes warble through, sounding more familiar than their eerie call probably should and framing a gentle counterpoint from viola and cello. The voices enter as new ideas grow and fade and return again, each element moving in perfect time with the others.

For a band that embraces an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach, what emerges is hardly noise. Instead, it's a series of auditory concepts that capture the mind and soothe the soul — a dance of sounds in space.

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Claire Blaustein
Claire Blaustein is a freelance writer and music critic who writes for a variety of publications, including The Washington Post, Exclaim! Magazine and La Scena Musicale. She came to NPR as a Performance Today intern in 2005, and has thus far refused to leave. When not doing any of the above, she writes in her blog, I Dig Music..., and pouts until someone gives her a new CD to play with.