Glistening, subliminal and balanced on a falling raindrop
Sigur Ros - Valtari

Do you think mermaids listen to Sigur Rós? We’d have to plump for a big yes. Singer Jonsi Birgisson must drive those sirens batshit with his aquatic lyrical surfing.

Now that the four core members of Iceland’s legendary folk band have finally dusted off some unused slices of musical magic, singer Jonsi has toured his solo record and the others wiped enough baby puke off their shoulders to return from self-enforced hiatus - it’s time to explode in HD once more.

Eight tracks have been laboriously peeled from the studio floor and walls. It’s a composite album gleaned from archives and misfits, though you’d hardly notice yourself. The band themselves translate ‘Valtari’ as ‘Steam Roller’, but they’ve also described it as “an avalanche in slow motion” - we’re sure you can imagine the scenes.

Opting to sing in Icelandic rather than their made-up language it feels more like a record of transition rather than a fresh approach. Closer ‘Fjögur Piano’ is about as fragile as a snowflake, whilst ‘Varúð’ swells with the usual gusto and will freeze your thoughts at the point of crescendo.

Their tone and style as a band is so robust now that short of quizzing them about their processes we’d doubt anyone would clock that this is an album of mastering and mixing wizardry.

It’ll no doubt soundtrack the births of another generation of babies and retain Sir David Attenborough’s services in his boisterous business of the biosphere for the next twenty years. ‘Valtari’ is glistening, subliminal and sounds as if it’s balanced on a falling raindrop.


Words by Matthew Bennett

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