IT’S GOTTEN TO the point where you have to wonder if there’s anything left to say about Sigur Rós. Clearly, the band feels it still has something to say, although keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson jumped ship for Kveikur, so maybe he got bored with them, or they with him. In any case, it’s an album that barely registers his absence.
It’s not that Kveikur is a poor work, just that by now these guys have mapped out their territory so comprehensively that no matter what strategy they come up with, or how they move around the pieces of the puzzle, it’s all too recognisable, and lulling, and just a little predictable.
This time, they mask the lack of keyboard layering with more in the way of big lumps of slightly rusty molten guitar, as well as shadings of strings, and a few half-disguised ‘contemporary’ drum programmings. Dubstep, woohoo! A hardcore SR fan who has immersed himself in every release may well contend that it’s a radical revision, but to the casual listener (such as myself), most of the typical Sigur Rós tactics are deployed: moments of awed dissonance, Jonsi’s fragile schoolboy yowl, and occasional momentum building up to large shuddering peaks. And I feel like maybe, just maybe, I’ve had my fill of those SR tropes.
Sadly, the mix is a little toppy, so it kills my ears with static whenever I blast it at the volume it feels like it requires. Perhaps a more mellow system would render the album anew, but I discovered that the best way to reconfigure SR in my mind’s eye was to play the album at a very low volume, and lie on the floor between my speakers, where the whole thing became vaporous and extremely ethereal, verging on ambient cloud. GARY STEEL
Music = 3.5/5
Sound = 2.5/5