There’s a certain kind of happiness that one feels around the euphoria of receiving Sigur Rós’ sixth full length studio album Valtari on brand new vinyl four days before its North American release date which also happens to be the last day of school. The day I received an e-mail from XL Recordings prompting me that they were offering a 10% discount on the new Sigur Rós album if I preorder it via XL’s website. I was actually planning to preorder it for quite some time, but never got around to it, so I felt this was a great opportunity to go ahead and snatch this deal. Little did I know Valtari was going to be this breathtaking. When I use that italicized “this” I mean it, yeah I listened to the leak, but the quality was not anything worth aural admission. Of course someone who is as obsessed with music as I am, becoming an audiophile is nothing short of obvious. So the intake of music of this stature needs to be heard on vinyl.
Though post-rock is something of a notorious genre in this day and age of modern music, its heyday was clearly the late mid ‘90s to early ‘00s. That’s when the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, and of course Sigur Rós produced emotionally-driven, grand pieces of music in all unique ways. One band out of that bunch has survived and mostly evolved into a marvel of the whole world, not just their Icelandic homeland, that group is Sigur Rós who have found such love in so many different realms of people across the world. Last year’s Inniwas like a greatest hits box set except it was live recordings of their greatest compositions in their 17 year career. Sigur Rós intuition is spectacular, they’re private enough to be respected and still do some of the world’s greatest concerts, Inni was a staple to that perspective showcasing their tremendous ability to transfer their studio work onto the big stage of arena rock.
Though Valtari is mostly a minimalistic record and is almost a complete 180 in style compared back to 2008’s more pop-heavy Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, its contents are just gorgeous and have an almost immediate impact. Those ghostly moans towards the tail end of “Varðeldur” are so emotionally driven that you forgot this is the same band that made that fun-loving “Gobbledigook.” Perhaps the most ethereal moment of Valtari is the title track which rotates around on a gorgeous bell part that circles around layers and layers of strings and instrumental beauty. One of the most ironic parts about Valtari’s creation is the comment made by bassist Georg Holm on Sigur Rós’ website saying, “I can honestly say that it’s [Valtari] the only Sigur Rós record I have listened to for pleasure in my own house.” How could he not listen to “Festival” or even the entirety of Ágætis byrjun without some kind of pleasure?
By: Rotations By Second