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Sigur Rós - Valtari CD (album) cover

VALTARI

Sigur Rós

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.23 | 127 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
4 stars After an indefinite hiatus, Sigur Ros finally returned with their 6th full length album "Valtari (Roller)". There were several times during the hiatus that they started working on a new album, and after a few starts and stops, recording new material and throwing it away because they were not satisfied, they finally came out with this album which focused on a more ambient sound than before. Instead of trying to describe what the songs were about on this album, Sigur Ros decided to let the listener interpret the music on this album in their own personal ways. They picked the title of this album because they felt that the music slowly rolled over the listener. You should go into this expecting a very ambient and peaceful album.

The first track is "Eg anda (I Breathe)". It starts out with a piano repeating a short, hymn-like melody, with other instruments entering and eventually Jonsi starts to sing. The ambient feel is apparent off the bat, but this one is very reminiscent of some of Sigur Ros' best material, sparse and beautiful, that boils slowly and has a slightly unsettling feel underneath all of the music. Later, a high pitched vocal that sounds somewhat processed stays mostly in the background.

"Ekki Mukk (Not a Sound)" is less melodic than the first and more meandering. It remains ambient most of the way through with a slight build a little over halfway through where shimmering beauty becomes the focus and then it calms to a very slow and quiet pace. It flows into "Varuo (Caution)" which starts with a keyboard playing an arpeggio pattern and Jonsi's subdued meandering higher register. Sustained bowed notes begin a crescendo with a slow changing chord pattern as things intensify. The keyboard changes to a piano in a higher register as bowed guitars reach the top of the crescendo, then things calm quickly. This one is quite repetitive as it is based on the same pattern throughout.

"Rembihnuter (Tight Knot)" starts with a subdued tribal rhythm with atmospheric guitars which quickly go into a melodic pattern. Jonsi starts to sing a fairly repetitive melody and alternates with the guitars for the lead on this song. After 3 minutes, an organ takes over when the rhythm stops with a subdued drone in the background. Soon, Jonsi starts the melody again and percussion starts again. This one is quite a bit more simplistic and melodic and not as immersive as the other tracks so far.

"Dauoalogn (Dead Calm)" is a track that was actually written in 2009 (this album was released in 2012). This has a very slow beat and a minimal sustained melody. Jonsi's vocals are in his higher register with a sustained echo giving his singing a far away feel. Except for a few very short bursts of dynamics, it remains minimal and calming throughout with an expansive yet desolate vibe. Around 8 minutes, things really start to open up with an almost sudden increase in intensity with organ and guitars creating a beautiful climax.

"Varoeldur (Campfire)" is also an older song written in 2009 and is an alternative version of "Luppulagio" from the "Inni" album. It features a constant slow rhythm with a quick build at the beginning which quiets for the vocals. Bowed guitars build a heavy, but not quite monstrous sound which calms about halfway through. The guitars continue an unsettling vibe under the vocals which push it forward to another build. At 6:30, a sudden increase in loudness and a theme is created with the guitars which carries the track to the end.

"Valtari (Roller)" is the minimalistic title track. Again, this is a very slow burn with a lot of ambient atmosphere and sleepy vocals. Layered organ and guitars remain shimmering and almost dronelike. "Fjogur Piano (Four Pianos)" takes old unused material and loops it into an atmospheric track.

The Japanese release also had 2 bonus tracks. "Logn" is completely ambient using electronic drones and vocal loops in an 8+ minute track. This is mostly just a relaxing soundscape without a lot of development. "Kvistur" runs 5 and a half minutes and is another experimental soundscape, this time with a lot of dissonant noise and ambience. The bonus tracks are okay if you love ambient and experimental music, but the best tracks are on the regular album.

This album is different than most of their other albums in that it is very atmospheric and ambient. If you don't like that type of music, then you probably will be disappointed in this album, but I find it very relaxing and peaceful. It is true that it is not one of their best, but there is still a lot to discover in this album, it just takes more time and effort. There is still plenty of beauty found within it's tracks. 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |

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