Sigur Ros - Valtari | Album Review | By Volume

I'm afraid of heaven because I can't stand the height. I'm afraid of you because I can't be left behind. St. Vincent - Regret

Sigur Ros


Decidedly ambient, quintessentially Sigur Rós.

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Author: on May 30, 2012
XL Recordings
May 23, 2012

Ever since I first escaped into their musical bliss with 1999’s Ágætis Byrjun all those years ago, Sigur Rós were always headphone music – sonic existentialism of the minimal self, bursting and blooming in the subconscious. Even their most bombastic statement Takk still walked down that road of self discovery. Valtari, the Icelandic ensemble’s first album in four years, and sixth long-player overall, changes this. Valtari is an extroverted statement that yearns to bleed its way out of heavy speakers into a thick pool of vivid sound onto the floor. Unlike the gradual but noticeable shifts that made ( ) a fan favorite, everything on Valtari is masked in a warming but distant haze of Hecker-ian fuzz that pulls away after repeat listens to reveal a vast soundscape of rolling valleys, gentle plains, and sharp peaks.

Illustration by Chris Harrop.

It’s a panoramic view of a listen from a perch far above the clouds. Unfortunately, this approach is sure to drive a wedge between even the most ardent of Sigur Rós apologists as it stands as a sharp rejection of Jónsi’s solo path and wanes in only the most sparse of Sigur Rós’ past accomplishments. Valtari is an album that needs a sharp focus to fully appreciate but it does not cry out and demand attention like many are used to. Sigur Rós have left the desire solely to the listener as to how deep they are willing to commit, be it a cursory glance or diving head first into its shimmering depths. Valtari is a beautiful amalgamation of bits and pieces that can be found on just about every Sigur Rós album – just all the ones you wouldn’t expect. It’s the noise of Von. It’s the heavy pacing of Ágætis Byrjun. It’s the adventure of Takk. It’s the warmth of með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. It is quintessentially Sigur Rós.

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