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It should also be noted that any Sigur Ros album is an ALBUM, meaning you should really listen to it from beginning to end, no skips or rewinds. It is a narrative of sorts, and should be experienced that way. That being said, I have to point out that Varúð and Fjögur píanó are two stand-out tracks worthy of the admission price alone. Varúð especially. That is one of the greatest songs I've heard in years. I love every song, but those are the stand-outs in my opinion.
OVERALL: If you're a longtime fan of Sigur Ros, prepared to be pleased. If you're just getting in on the game, Valtari is as great of a place to start as any. Newbies might also want to check out the song Saeglópur - it's another one of my favorites.
I was determined to have the music on the new disc move me with the same impact I felt from Agaetis Byrjun,() and Takk. I kept anticipating the barren cold textures, the unexpected sweeping turns and finally, the breathtaking climaxes (the "I need a cigarette kind!") It never happened; what a disappointment.
Then something else happened...After an extremely tiring yet pleasurable surf session, I decided to try Valtari again. Exhausted, I closed my eyes and listened without expectations. By the second track, Ekki Mukk, I felt as if a door had been opened. Next, Varuo completely took me over (tears escaped my closed eyes.) I started seeing colors. I felt as if I was still in the Pacific riding waves. The music, just like surfing, had picked me up and moved me. In the ocean, one can not make a wave. When listening to Sigur Ros, the listener can't make the music move them.
My assessment: The first five tracks pour in, a liquid steamroller. Jonsi's vocals rise and fall like an ocean wave. The final three songs are mostly instrumental and lovely, almost like one merging outro. These last three, a sailboat riding the tide out and taking the listener to relative safety of the sea. The soft ending is welcome after the beauty and glory by the shore.
Please excuse the dramatic metaphors; I know it sounds pretentious. But every word and sound rings true for me. So please, long-time fans, give the record a chance; don't compare it to their storied past. Newbies: just get on board and enjoy the ride...
Standouts include the tender piano/string "Varúð" with Jónsi's ethereal vocals juxtaposed against an ornate soundscape with strings and harmonies ascending to a skyscraping climax. Awesome and enthralling, my favourite. "Rembihnútur" is a gently ascending number with Jónsi coming in midway, while "Dauðalogn" is like a Hymn. Jónsi sings on the first 5 tracks, while "Varðeldur", "Valtari", and "Fjögur píanó" (the latter with delicately tinkling keys) are largely instrumental with Jónsi's harmonies adding instrumental tone on some.
The music is dense and requires time for everything to come into focus, but once it does, there's no letting go.
I love the fact that they didn't simply churn out another album with the usual post-rock conventions, as other reviewers have mentioned; even though they would've done a fine job I'm sure. The whole "build-up to a beautiful crescendo that overflows into shimmering bliss" is great, but predictable after the genre's been around for 10 years and then some.
For "Valtari" it seems the band went into it with a creative, more experimental idea in mind. There are lots of layered sounds, parts that've been slowed down, etc. It's as if Jonsi brought the idea for he & Alexs' "Riceboy Sleeps" (dreamy soundscapes) album and SR decided to do a similar thing, but actively use more studio manipulation to bring the atmosphere closer to the intended emotional response. Usually I can smell the stench of studio tinkering a mile away, and it distracts/detracts from the music; not here in the least, however--the puzzle is complete in all its airy-but-full, "small-feel" glory. It all creates a floating feeling that isn't jarring to the ears in the least; although many will likely complain that it's nothing more than a sleep aid. I'm also partial to ambient music, so my likings may be explained there.
"Valtari" also really grasps the feelings in some of the sets/stages in the "Heima" DVD, with more intimacy in the playing than I've heard in any of their other releases. Liked it so much I had to get the double LP.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved it! The delivery was really fast, considering my location. The product arrived with no problems or details, just what I ordered!Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Getting this album on vinyl only helped to enhance their already amazing sound!Published 17 days ago by Kristy Knighten
Too much crescendo.
I don't like too much massing of instruments, everything going at once .. and they tend to do this a lot. Read more
Just recently got into Sigur Ros and this my introduction to their music. Love this CDPublished 8 months ago by Sevynn
Just got into the whole vinyl craze. This was my first new purchase. Sigur Ros has been and will always be one of my most cherished bands. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Conner Currier