Sigur Ros – Valtari

January 01, 1970

(XL)

 

www.xlrecordings.com

 

Sigur Rós has, in the past, caught flack for valuing static
beauty over development, building icy, gorgeous landscapes that remain nearly
motionless over the course of a song. Here, however, momentum lurks in even the
prettiest tableaux.

 

Wispy delicacy – the birdlike tones of Jonsi, the ghostly
echoes of piano – builds into massive, swirling climaxes. Songs like “Varúð”
start in whispers and crescendo into thundering, overdriven frenzy. Valtari also benefits from the
experiences band members have accumulated during a four-year hiatus. The
playful, electronic dance aesthetic that Jonsi pursued in Go enlivens pop-tinged “Rembihnútur.” Keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson
returns from classical experiments with a bit of Arvo Pärt’s pure melancholy,
as in the lovely, piano-led “Varðeldur.” The concert film Inni may even have awakened Sigur Rós to the appeal of live
immediacy: amongst the Ligeti-esque choirs of angels, the tremulous strings, the
twinkling glockenspiel, the gleaming sheens of synthesizer, you can hear the hiss
of distortion and the rasp of metal on metal.

 

It’s a bit of necessary friction, the rasp that lets you
grasp these slippery, shimmery, beautiful songs.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Varúð,”
“Rembihnútur” JENNIFER KELLY

 

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