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REVIEW: Sigur Ros - Valtari

REVIEW: Sigur Ros - Valtari

By: Alex Ramirez
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June 5, 2012
Valtari makes me feel a lot of things; happy, sad, safe, scared, apprehensive, and calm. I suppose its the sweet timbre of Jonsi, or the overwhelmingly visceral catalogue of songs, or the constant jolts between different sounds throughout the album. But Sigur Ros have always produced albums of evocative quality but are simply just there to listen. And Valtari is no different.

Valtari's opening song, "Eg Anda," starts off with a melancholic drone riddled with long and slow strokes of violins, that abruptly stop to clashes of atonal piano. The rupture of a euphoric buzz soon tapers off as Jonsi's clear and hypnotic vocals serenely glide into the song. Surprisingly, "Eg Anda" means "I breathe" in Icelandic, which almost seems to describe the rest of the album. Valtari begins just as quick as it ends, and is essentially just there to take in. The songs don't resonate with a abrasiveness or aggressiveness, but are just something to easily breathe in.

To me Sigur Ros' music is best portrayed when accompanied with some sort of imagery or film. And regardless it still conjures up images in my head even if it is not accompanied by music. Although it's Sigur Ros staple factor, it's also a culprit as to why their music always sounds the same. Valtari sounds just like the rest of their previous work and is overall good album. This is probably because if Sigur Ros made anything that was wholly different to their staple ambient sound, they wouldn't receive such a positive reception. Essentially, they are stuck in a rut, and there is no way getting out.

However, there is a little change in their music as it possesses an electronic fervor. Bassist George Holm described the album as having more electronic stuff than before. Ironically, I find this surprising because Sigur Ros' albums have always seemed more electronic. Perhaps their previous work was with instruments muddled with many effects rather than actual electronic hardware. Either way, Valtari does seem more electronic as all the songs are washed over with cascading synths or droning buzzes. This effect leaves a lot of vacancy and emptiness for the album, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. In this case it works for Sigur Ros, as their songs constantly evoke a myriad of emotions and this effect only makes Valtari more personal for the audience as well as the band. The ambient vacancy allows the audience to feel anything, and perhaps that's what Sigur Ros wanted all along.

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