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Sigur Ros: Valtari
As all-enveloping as any Sigur Ros albumcan be, once you’reinside it, there’s usually an arduous bout of shoegazing involved just to get there. Valtari is Icelandic for “steamroller,” and at the outset, the album rolls slowly and mercilessly forward like a cold steel behemoth, flattening out a sonic highway that’s infused with droning stretches of strings, choral voices, spectral samples and eerie electronics. Lead singer Jonsi Birgisson’s falsetto guides us through the encroaching mists like a distant light in a fogbank, until eventually in “Dauoalogn” (“Dead Calm”), the effect becomes almost holy. This is the stark difference that sets off Valtari from the grandiose gestures of 2005’s Takk or the near pretensions to folk and art-rock of 2008’s Meo suo í eyrum vio spilum endalaust_ (the latter co-produced with Flood); it’s as if the band decided to dispense with being stubborn and inscrutable, for once, and just dissolve collectively into the music. It may not be obvious at first, but what we’re left with is the most free-wheeling and wide open Sigur Ros project yet.
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