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CD: Sigur Rós - Valtari | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Sigur Rós - Valtari

CD: Sigur Rós - Valtari

Iceland’s sonic impressionists reclaim themselves, despite the doubtful building blocks

Sigur Rós's "Valtari": spectral

The use of Sigur Rós’s aural drama for the soundtracks of Life on Earth, Vanilla Sky and its subsequent sound bed ubiquity has meant their music has become divorced from who they are. The enthralling Valtari emphasises that these four Icelanders are a band rather than a machine supplying lazy directors with ready made atmospherics. Even so, Valtari’s “Ekki múkk” and “Varúð” are so spectacular they’ll no doubt warm the hearts of filmmakers world wide.

Thankfully, Sigur Rós have ditched the outside elements that made their last album, 2008’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, a compromised half-way house. Instead, Valtari is their most ambient, most spectral album since 2002’s ( ). Sigur Rós have re-entered their special world.

Valtari’s evolution doesn’t suggest that it could be cohesive, or even convince as an album. Sessions for a follow up to 2008’s Með… began, but it was announced in 2010 that what’d been recorded was scrapped. Instead, Jónsi’s solo album Go came out that year. On the face of it, Valtari doesn’t promise much or suggest that, once reunited, Sigur Rós had their noses to the creative grindstone – it’s mostly re-recordings of offcuts or shelved tracks. “Dauðalogn” and “Varðeldur” are a decade old and recordings of them were initially tried after 2005’s Takk. “Rembihnútur”, “Fjögur piano” and “Valtari” were composed for the aborted post- Með… sessions. “Varúð” was a soundtrack commission. “Varðeldur” reconfigures “Lúppulagið” from their live film Inni. Only opening cut “Ég” and “Ekki múkk” are new.

That Sigur Rós can conjure a consistent album from a pile of scraps means either they’re well versed in their formula or that their leftovers are of an exceptionally high caliber. Either way, the lovely Valtari is the sound of Sigur Rós reclaiming themselves.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the video for "Ekki múkk", from Sigur Rós's Valtari

Valtari emphasises that Sigur Rós are a band rather than a machine supplying lazy directors with ready made atmospherics

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Good review. It's not as poppy and commercial as their last album but it is quietly beautiful and a lovely listen.

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