It’s fitting that the album cover is what it is- a ship floating above a calm sea. Because that’s exactly what listening to this latest record by Sigur Ros sounds like; flying vocals and piano ride above soft lapping waves of sound.
The sixth full length studio album from the Icelandic group hasn’t departed much from their earlier efforts. Ambient and epic post rock soundtracks evoking their misty homeland.From start to finish, Valtari (meaning ‘roller’) is a icy trip of droning synths, ethereal voices and a low thundering bass. Jonsi’s falsetto skates over the top of dense and layered backing. It drowns you in sound, and can get a bit overwhelming; the songs hold up much better when there’s a melody (however slight) to hang on to. The standout track, Varuo, is an ambitious orchestral sweep with shimmering strings and piano, and it builds to a heavy crash of drums and phased guitar. The bowed guitar (a feature of Sigur Ros) has remained, fans will be happy to know, and its sound can be heard peppered throughout the album. In terms of standing against their earlier records, it hasn’t quite lived up to the splendour of fourth album, Takk, but it’s still a solid undertaking, showcasing their crazy musicianship and vision. Bizarre and completely arresting.