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Sigur Rós (IS) – “Valtari”

Sigur Rós is a band that needs little introduction.

Since entering the music circuit in the late 90s, their music has been heard in many films and TV shows and their post-rock/ambient sound has set the benchmark for many bands. Valtari is Sigur Rós’ first effort in nearly 4 years and it’s a lot of what you’d to expect: Swelling lush orchestral strings, Jonsi’s yearning falsetto and instruments tweaked with effects and digital processing are all here in full bloom, only there is some degree of restraint this time around. It’s not as “pop sounding” as their previous LP Med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust and, while I liked that album, this one is more subdued and yet also colossal at the same time. That the Icelandic word Valtari translates to “steamroller” is ironically fitting here; the album crushes you with devastating beauty.

While it’s tough to pick a favorite song from Valtari since I feel like this album should be listened to as a whole, the album does contain a few standouts.

Ég anda

Launches the album wonderfully and features a choir that sounds like they are singing from a wind-swept, snow-capped mountain.

Rembihnútur

Has an emotionally charged rhythm and drums with the sound of opening and closing doors woven through white noise.

Fjögur píanó

An elegiac album closer that will wistfully cut right through you and might be one of the most moving pieces of music I’ve heard all year.

Listening to Valtari brings on a swirling, weightless dream that’s like watching the memories and images of your life go by and leaves you both haunted and enchanted. Sure, the slow motion and often percussion-free sound could be seen as yawn-inducing by some, but that’s why Sigur Rós’ music isn’t for everyone. Instead, it’s for people who are in touch with what it’s like to be a dreaming, feeling human being who finds true reflection through music.

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