Honestly, at this point in their discography, nothing short of a seismic shift in what Sigur Rós produces would surprise fans of the group’s signature sound.
Of Valtari, the Icelandic band’s 6th full length release, bassist Georg Hólm says this:
“I really can’t remember why we started this record, I no longer know what we were trying to do back then. I do know session after session went pear-shaped, we lost focus and almost gave up. … did give up for a while. But then something happened and form started to emerge, and now I can honestly say that it’s the only Sigur Rós record I have listened to for pleasure in my own house after we’ve finished it.”
In other words: “You know what to expect by now.”
I mean, don’t get me wrong – there’s much to be enjoyed here. As with their previous releases, the group melds post-rock and dream pop influences, weaving gorgeous soundscapes that are the perfect fit for movie soundtracks.
You just have to like listening to the same sound over and over and over until it bends and breaks, allowing some whale-like mating call to power through and then vanish under a bed of an out of tune piano or a choir of angels. But you’re into that, right?
I’ve made the comment before about this band’s music all blurring together halfway or so through the respective album. But this is the 6th Sigur Rós album I’ve listened to and written about this year, and at this point the only ones that really stick out in my mind are VON (because of how daring that record is in comparison to its successors, mimicking the Smashing Pumpkins at points) and Ágætis Byrjun (because that is still far and away their best record).
In between those two records and this one is a lot of brain mush, unpronounceable “feel” words and song titles, and yes, even a couple of naked butts.
But that won’t stop me from seeing the band later this year here in Tampa.
And thus, the last of what I will be able to write this year about the group: I hope this is the music I’ll hear when we all pass on. Or, at the very least, at the end of all of our biopics.
From Valtari, this is “Fjögur Píanó” –
Standout tracks: “Dauðalogn” and “Varúð”
Weakest track: The title track “Valtari” but a lot of the material here does blend together after a while.
RIYL: Jónsi, Jónsi & Alex – pretty much anything else this band or its members have done.