Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of Iceland’s prettiest post-rock export.
More than any other band, Sigur Rós provides the best soundtrack for my life and while a lot of it is incidental (Sigur Rós is de rigueur on any Sleepy Time mix), there have been many times where I have laid still and let those bowed guitars, tympanic vibrations, weeping violins, and Jónsi’s choirboy voice overtake my consciousness. Their music adds a significant gravity to your life, narcotically turning the most trivial objects or insignificant thoughts into totems and revelations. Over the years, they’ve constructed and perfected the musical broom, ready to sweep everyone away into their serene, Icelandic pocket of the world where everyone becomes a half-conscious neo-natal receptor floating in space –like that bubble baby from 2001: A Space Odyssey
And they’ve pretty much done the same thing for about a decade and a half.
The curves Sigur Rós have taken taken ostensibly amount to only a few turns of the wheel, but over the course of their career, their compositions stretch across a wide spectrum; from swelling post-rock to cute acoustic pop to even a song that sounds like a Kevin Shields B-side.
There’s always something about the quartet that sounds completely extraterrestrial: the Iceclandic dialect’s diphthongs that chew around the lyrics, the cavernous production covered in reverb as if there was no one around for miles when they recorded it, the starry accoutrement that speckle the background of songs. It’s sometimes so intangible that to actually meet the music requires plenty of give on the listener’s part. Perhaps that’s what makes it so rewarding your own trust falls into Sigur Rós’ celestial arms.
Valtari, Sigur Rós’ seventh studio LP, is a cosmic departure from their recent, more grounded work, further defining their canon like their previous releases with strong and subtle strokes. Ahead of its release, on the next few pages are breakdowns of the band’s major releases (omitted are the EPs, the Von remix album, some collaborations, and the essential live album, InnÃ). Read on, if only to learn how to condescendingly tell people how their albums are actually pronounced.
-Jeremy D. Larson