Friday, November 18, 2011

Sigur Rós - Inni Review

I'm going to say something controversial so all you soft hearted Sigur Rós fans should avert your eyes. I saw Sigur Rós on their first tour of Australia and I was so, so excited. ( ) is one of my all time favourite albums and the anticipation was huge (it seemed every person I'd ever met in my life was at that show). The problem was that when Sigur Rós took the stage, within in two songs I was totally bored. While my friends were having fits of ecstasy, I was thinking "gee, my feet are sore." In the wash up, it occurred to me that standing in the second row at a concert was not the way to enjoy Sigur Rós, lying on a couch with your substance of choice is. I think back to that night and wonder if I'd had a couch to lie on and a glass of wine in my hand whether that would have been the greatest gig of my life.

So, to listen to Inni, I made myself comfortable on a couch with a glass of red and it turns out my instincts at the concert were correct - this is the perfect way to see/hear Sigur Rós live... I mean it's not like anyone is going to start a mosh or anything. As soon as the submarine pulse of Inni's first track Svefn-g-englar starts, I am immediately reminded why Sigur Rós is such a singular band: simultaneously transcendent, sublime and gorgeous, this is music that sends shivers up the spine. What is so compelling is that the band are operating as a four piece on this record but the sheer sonic density sounds like there are many more players on stage. In particular, the earlier songs, stripped to their essence sound rawer but no less elegant or epic. I must confess that I became less interested in the band around Takk as their music became more conventional but having listened to Jonsi's solo record (and excellent accompanying live album) pretty consistently for the last year, those latter day Sigur songs make more sense to me now. If anything, Inni does lean heavily on those later albums but it is a joy to hear old faves Ný batterí, E-Bow (Unititled # 6) and Popplagid (Untitled #8) in this context.

Unifying the album is Jonsi's voice which for all it's otherwordly weirdness is an incredibly strong and consistent instrument. I think your love of this band is dictated by how much you like his voice so to all the people who write it off as irritating whale music don't even bother as there are more whales on this record than a David Attenborough documentary. While this cd/dvd set acts as an interesting document (the biggest attraction for fans being the one new track Lúppulagid), ultimately I'm not sure it's a record that people will be thrashing over and over again. Sigur Rós create such perfect studio records with such considered sound, these tracks have little hope of usurping the originals. Still, with a glass of wine and a comfy spot, this is a pretty nice overview of Sigur Rós' career. If you're fan you've already bought it and I'm surprised you've read this far...


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