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Sigur Rós - Inni CD (album) cover

INNI

Sigur Rós

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.26 | 34 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars After their more lightweight 2008 studio album "Međ Suđ Í Eyrum Viđ Spilum Endalaust" it's a thrill (and a relief?) to hear, and also finally see, Sigur Rós doing what they've always done best: unleashing vast waves of dense, atmospheric Dirge Rock, stronger than usual in the live setting presented here.

The concert(s) in this twin-CD package date from late 2008, when the band was touring in support of the above-named album. But unlike that atypically upbeat effort the sound here is classic Sigur Rós, and likely to strike a sympathetic chord in listeners claiming even a passing familiarity with Post Rock protocol: typically built around loud/soft contrasts and long, escalating crescendos. The stage arrangements don't stray too far from the studio originals, but the live sound is vivid, giving each song even more grandiose power than on the albums themselves.

The effect, as always, is oddly exhilarating. Especially when the alien falsetto of vocalist Jónsí Birgisson (I would hesitate to brand him as a mere singer) is matched against the wall-shaking signature sound of his bowed electric guitar. No wonder the musicians like to describe themselves as "a very serious Heavy Metal band": it's an apt description of their loud yet introspective aesthetic.

But the DVD is the main attraction here. This has to be one of the more striking concert films ever produced, succeeding in part because it isn't a traditional concert film at all. The aim instead was to present a more abstract interpretation of the Sigur Rós soundworld, shot on grainy high-contrast black and white film stock (or its digital HD equivalent, most likely) and artificially enhanced with epileptic editing and a panoply of visual treatments.

The evocative faux-antique style nicely captures the moody, sub-arctic angst of the music itself. And to closet cineastes it might also recall the silent film expressionism of Murnau or Lang...or at least Guy Maddin, the Winnipeg auteur who gave us "The Saddest Music in the World" and "Tales From the Gimli Hospital". Interlaced with the concert is an assortment of backstage footage and brief interview segments (including an NPR appearance in which the band looks somewhat bemused and bewildered), plus a handful of bonus performances minus all the heavy-duty image distress.

"Inni" probably needs to be seen on a large screen, with high fidelity sound. But the film worked fine on my little old TV console, impressing me as one of the few visual documents of a live music experience worth watching more than once. And while the music itself doesn't break new ground, it's a timely and welcome restatement of first principles for a band just now emerging from long hibernation.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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