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Sigur Rós - Átta CD (album) cover


Sigur Rós

Post Rock/Math rock

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siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars The Icelandic falsetto king Jónsi is back with his Icelandic friends to deliver the newest ethereal chill out from his majestic SIGUR ROS band, an act that pretty much dominated the late 90s and early 2000s on the post-rock scene but in recent years has fallen fairly silent. I have to admit that i have not kept up with SIGUR RÓS since its 2013 album "Kveikar" but i've noticed the discography filling up ever since. Well as it turns out that was their last official albums and all those releases in between were either soundtracks, remix albums or an ambient project that has sported the SIGUR RÓS PRESENTS moniker.

This band has been around in some shape or form for almost three decades and is back in 2023 to prove once again who dominated the ambient pop sector of the post-rock universe only this time the band has gone full blown symphonic on us with a 41-piece orchestra to craft those fragile soundscapes that made albums like "Ágćtis byrjun" sound like the soundtrack to the gates of heaven with an army of producers and engineers to bring it all to fruition. Technically the band has only four members this time around but ÁTTA (which means "eight" in Icelandic and coincides with this being the band's eighth studio album) sounds like a monstrous modern classical masterworks of the ages.

With an eye-catching album cover of a rainbow igniting in flames, ÁTTA may not deliver a fiery set of tracks but rather maintains the band's status quo as that Icelandic band that can emulate the landscapes of its homeland through sound. Icy and cold motifs slowly gestate like icebergs slowly navigating in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic with Jónsi's distinct vocal style captaining the ship. Very much in character of the band's earlier works, ÁTTA features ten tracks that add up to 56 1/2 minutes. In addition to this ambitious album that features a whopping 41 musicians providing the modern classical backdrop, it was announced that there will be a live tour with as many musicians to match. Sounds like one expensive event but SIGUR RÓS is clearly still about the art form above all else.

While the album is as impressive as the band's earliest output up until around "( )" or "Takk," what ÁTTA seems to lack is a firm sense of perspective and therefore falls flat as far as maintaining some diversity in the varying tracks. Pretty much all the tracks from the opening "Glóđ" to the closing "8" maintain a nonchalant post-rock procession that eschews percussive drive altogether and allows the orchestrated atmospheric touches to dominate the flow. While there are really no annoying tracks on board, it's also the case that SIGUR RÓS has fallen into its comfort zone and pretty much delivers a set of tracks that have been done before and better for that matter. The fact is that ÁTTA doesn't add anything to the SIGUR RÓS universe save the pompousness of a larger than life orchestral presence.

This album is pleasant enough and if you are a diehard fan you will eat this up like Icelandic Ţristur (fudgy chocolate pieces filled with licorice) but for my tastes i'm fairly underwhelmed by this comeback album some 20 years after this sound still possessed a major wow factor. ÁTTA finds SIGUR RÓS floating around by taking the business as usual approach and while this may be the right setting for a beautiful live tour which incorporates past glories into the mix of a 41-piece orchestra, as a new album this is fairly average. The world of post-rock has evolved significantly since SIGUR RÓS first unleashed this sound almost a quarter of a century ago and it's not one that really sounds awful or anything of the sort but it does sound a bit stale considering this band has tackled a variety of differing styles over its career. A good album but really nothing beyond that.

Report this review (#2939557)
Posted Thursday, July 13, 2023 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sigur Rós releases his 10th opus to get out of the grandiloquent musical emotion, to create spaces of intimate atmosphere, to talk about the climate, the decadence with a note of hope.

'Glóđ' major departure, the sound, the voices, some upside down, the bewitchment; the dreamlike journey with the keyboards of Kjartan which returns, everything is there to train you, to melt you like the ice filled with embers. 'Blóđberg' connects languorous beauty based on wave crescendos and Jónsi in hopelandic walking near you for a dark, symphonic, sublime meditation. 'Skel' continues, sound by the way, over the voice in falsetto; contemplative, fabulous latent air, filled with hope where the orchestra shows the power of the instruments; final with a horn, an archaic cello for 'Klettur' with the atmosphere 'the last temptation of Christ', a metronomic pad, angelic choirs, melancholy violins from which we expect the explosion; the post becomes cosmic, leaving on ethereal limbo and gives relief, immense. 'Mór' with Jónsi to prolong the state of religious trance in which you got stuck, waking up from a dreamlike nap tending to plunge you back into it with a gentle finale.

'Andrá' first sounds of 'Radio activity', first moments of life of Man on Earth; the hopelandic is perfect to symbolize this, a contemplative air, a climb to the heavens while remaining alive, this is what we are aiming for; the acoustic guitar and the air swell, the sounds raise the mood before the end, it feels like riding a wave. 'Gold' resembles but dissimilar, more majesty and grandeur; soaring and pensive. 'Ylur' on the crystalline piano and the voice of Jónsi forward for yet another bucolic drift on the black southern lands, one more to stay in weightlessness. 'Fall' occurs, piano and its sustain pedal to prolong, the minimal vocal as an interlude and the solemn air to keep hope alive. '8' closes the album, a consensual title repeating the theme of dark light, one more oxymoron for these fantastic 3 and their orchestra; 5 minutes and it's over... for a final meditative de-crescendo.

Sigur Rós launches this musical pad, a cosmic neo-classical sound, a concept album to listen to in one go, at a time when many are surfing on 2-3 titles thinking they know everything and understand everything; meditative, dreamlike, simply beautiful.(4.5)

Report this review (#2944482)
Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2023 | Review Permalink
4 stars The band's first studio album in ten years shows the band relying completely on atmospheric synths, full orchestra, and the virtuosic voice of their angelic leader.

1. "Glóđ" (3:39) Jónsi with orchestra. Pretty flat and nondescript. (8.5/10)

2. "Blóđberg" (7:16) nice meditative float. (13.125/15)

3. "Skel" (4:58) more angel-hosted slow walking. (8.75/10)

4. "Klettur" (6:31) nice cinematic low end opening--with tympanic tribal drum driving the way. Definitely a top three for me. (9/10)

5. "Mór" (5:47) big orchestral song with early crescendo and long, drawn out postlude. (8.75/10)

6. "Andrá" (4:07) Jónsi's low-register dirge slowly builds with orchestra support for two minutes before yielding to a gently picked nylon string guitar. At first it's alone, but then Jónsi returns and the orchestra swells around them. Interesting. (8.75/10)

7. "Gold" (5:13) piano, synth textures, and distant, ethereal Jónsi vocalizations are topped by Jónsi's clear (though heavily effected) up-front vocal dominating the soundscape. Slow, steady beat from a low percussive in straight walking time as Jónsi, synthscape, & strings swirl heavenly like water flowing upward. Another top three song. (8.875/10)

8. "Ylur" (5:55) 45 seconds of atmospheric cave-guitar chords before Jónsi joins in. Nice music for a nice vocal--virtuosic. My other top three song. (8.875/10)

9. "Fall" (3:27) effected-electric piano, playing a sequence of chords, spaciously, over and over. Jónsi joins in to sing within the chords, in time with the chords' syncopation. Again, very professional vocal. (8.666667/10)

10. "8" (9:41) more PETER GABRIEL-like slow treated piano chord progressions with light strings and Jónsi's protracted vocalizations. The second half of the song devolves into a kind of HAROLD BUDD funeral dirge heard as if coming from a different room in the same funeral home. (17/20)

Total Time 56:34

B/four stars; a nice, peaceful, almost meditative journey into the pre-Gates of St. Peter clouds and sky. Nice if you're a fan or collector or contemplative; not sure if there's anything here for the prog or Post Rock lover who's looking for something fresh or innovative.

Report this review (#2974131)
Posted Thursday, December 14, 2023 | Review Permalink

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