Sigur Rós


BY Alan RantaPublished Jun 17, 2013

This is unquestionably a Sigur Rós album. By now, anyone who has heard of the Icelandic post-rock institution knows what that means: Jónsi Birgisson's shimmering falsetto flowing over rolling, experimental soundscapes that build and dissipate with otherworldly elegance. Indeed, that feel is still present, but without multi-instrumental keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson in the line-up, having departed in 2012, the ethereal chill that was taken to an extreme with 2012's Valtari has been toned back a shade. There is a more of an industrial, in-your-face feel on Kveikur, noticeable from the synth bass and metallic percussion of opener "Brennisteinn" (Icelandic for sulphur). Title cut "Kveikur" is particularly aggressive, with a sonic palette suitable for a Nine In Nails backing track — bowed, cello-like guitar and pounding drums over an alien siren background with metallic wind chimes offsetting uneasy strings. The payoffs on Kveikur are close to immediate, but they're no less orchestrated than previous work, coming across like a more focused and fleshed out Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra with sweeter vocals.
(XL Recordings)

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