x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sigur Ros's Valtari recalls Pink Floyd

A slight retreat for the band, but an excellent offering.

Sigur Ros
Valtari
(EMI)
****

Upon first listen, the languid pacing of Sigur Rós's album could leave the impatient with the feeling of listening to aural wallpaper. Dig deeper, however, and you find elements and song dynamics recalling Pink Floyd at their most experimental and a deep passion conveyed without the need for mere lyrics. Since their fourth release, Takk, the group's mostly instrumental songwriting was more rhythmic and direct. Their latest, Valtari, on the other hand, finds the band returning to the foggy beauty of earlier releases. This is the group's most sparse recording yet; with the exception of the throbbing bass drum in Varù's finale, the record is devoid of percussion. The songs here derive their quiet power from cinematic moods. The yearning Ekki múkk is driven by skeletal piano while the sweeping Vareldur unfolds over a leisurely six minutes. Eg Anda is the closest we get to quickening the pulse, beginning with a whisper and exploding with waves of keyboards and shimmering guitars. Valtari may be a slight retreat for Sigur Rós, but they sound just as beautiful crawling backwards.