Sigur Ros – Valtari

Confronted by music of such wondrous beauty as this, it is all too easy to resort to hyperbole and worthless clichés in an attempt to describe its impact. But all you really need to know is this: in Valtari, Sigur Ros have fashioned an album as luminous and as achingly beautiful as anything you might hear this, or any other year for that matter.

This is their sixth studio album, and it marks a retreat from the more poppy, commercial sound of their last studio recording Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust  to the quieter, ambient spaces occupied by singer Jónsi Birgisson’s collaborative project The Riceboy Sleeps.

There are echoes of their career defining album Takk in the mix also; it’s there in their use of twinkling glockenspiel and vintage music box sounds. At times, this record resonates at the same level as sacred music; album opener ‘Ég anda’ begins in hushed reverential tones – a lonely choral voice picks out a haunting melody before the band build layer upon layer of celestial, heavenly beauty.

‘Ekki Múkk’ was the first track leaked in advance of the record release, and perhaps best represents the heavier emphasis on their more ambient side – tear stained strings and Jonsi’s haunting, angelic voice combine to devastating effect.  ‘Varut’ might just make you cry, an uplifting, soaring anthem that works on a wordless level, like so much of the music here.
The album closes with a simple, elegant piano lullaby – with ‘Fjögur píanó’, the moments of silence are as important as the notes that fill them.

No band better understands the spiritual power of music, its ability to bypass reason and go straight for the heart. There is a magical sense of wonder and awe in every precious moment on here – a soundtrack to the glorious and joyous mess of everyday life.

Six albums in, this is more than we dared dream or hope for – Valtari  is a magnificent record, a towering achievement from a band who continue to make their own defiantly unique and glorious noise.


5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)