Sigur Ros
Valtari


4.0
excellent

Review

by ArcturusBows USER (2 Reviews)
May 29th, 2012 | 26 replies | 2,494 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "An avalanche in slow motion"

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Honestly, why continue the review after that? Sigur Ros bassist Georg Holm perfectly summarized the group’s latest album, Valtari, perfectly with that statement. Valtari is an album that generates a feeling of transparent immensity. It shimmers with a soft glow that gently radiates throughout the albums tracks. It is subdued, slow, and focused. Each track functions more as a soundscape than a piece of music, as perfectly illustrated by the “moving artwork” video made for the first single, Ekki Mukk. As opposed to the orchestral rollercoasters that emerged from Agaetis Byrjun or ( ), Valtari could be likened to dozing off in the middle of a road trip as the landscape slowly fades into the sky. The arrangements are heavily layered and intricately produced, reluctantly shedding away more details with each repeated listen. Those who will be awaiting the immense rises and falls of the group’s early work will be sorely disappointed. Replacing them is instead a new form of contemplative beauty. While the groups tendency towards the minimal is sudden, and at times extreme (bonus track Kvistur is little more than five minutes of GY!BE-esque droning), it is far from ineffectual. While not always exciting by any margin, Valtari is a great album of beautiful, carefully constructive tracks. Those willing to sit out the slower stretches will be greatly rewarded, as they are lost in the meditative bliss evoked by fragments of Jonsi’s voice and detuned pianos floating through the layers and layers of sound. An avalanche in slow motion, Valtari is the calm, not the storm.


user ratings (630)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ThroneOfAgony
May 28th 2012



3485 Comments


ok 

Rail
May 28th 2012



489 Comments


Nice mini-review.

Haven't got this yet, and don't really feel an overwhelming desire to do so.

Digging: Tipper - Forward Escape

Xenophanes
Emeritus
May 28th 2012



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Yeah I just disagree. Emotionless drivle that people keep comparing to the excellent material before it.

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

ArcturusBows
May 28th 2012



2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very little points of comparison stylistically. As I said, everyone who wants ( ) part II is going to be disappointment. Standing on it's own, it's a great album and a good mark of the bands evolution.

Archelaos
May 28th 2012



241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Xenophanes: This feels like the album that should have proceeded Takk. I get that some people don't like it, but calling it 'Emotionless drivel' seems like a bold and groundless assertion. One of the reasons this album is so good is because of how emotionally fraught it is, and the atmosphere carries its sentiments far. Your feelings regarding how good it is is another story altogether.

Steoandnoodles
May 29th 2012



2832 Comments


I haven't listened to it yet. I'm a big Sigur Ros fan and I love their music but I've heard mixed things about it. =/

I hope I like it when I get around to listening to it myself. Thanks for the review.

Anthracks
May 29th 2012



3668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

If you love Sigur Ros, you'll love it. It doesn't abandon their style by any means. I think I'll listen to it tonight in bed oh yeah that sounds good nice yoshi avatar man

Eko
May 29th 2012



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've only listened to this once but I think I really liked it

pos

Steoandnoodles
May 29th 2012



2832 Comments


Great! Thanks for the heads up Anthracks. =)
So why do people dislike it? I mean, there are lots of people who have loved everything from Ágætis byrjun onward so if it's not a sound change, why is this album receiving some bad vibes?



Anthracks
May 29th 2012



3668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i dont know its significantly less poppy than the last two but its definitely more wonderful sigur ros ambiance

Steoandnoodles
May 29th 2012



2832 Comments


Sounds good to me. =)
Going to listen to it today, thank you Anthracks.

Anthracks
May 29th 2012



3668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

no problemo. i usually listen to it to fall asleep. not because its boring but its soooo relaxing. always willing 2 help someone wit a yoshi avatar

Steoandnoodles
May 29th 2012



2832 Comments


Haha! Thanks man.

Yeah, I know what you mean, I get that with early Iron & Wine and selective Sigur Ros albums. They're so relaxing they leave you in a state of comfort that it's easy to just have a snooze.

Anthracks
May 29th 2012



3668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

the third track on here (varud) is my favorite sigur ros song, too. at least right now

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 29th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

blandblandblandblandbland!

Xenophanes: This feels like the album that should have proceeded Takk. I get that some people don't like it, but calling it 'Emotionless drivel' seems like a bold and groundless assertion. One of the reasons this album is so good is because of how emotionally fraught it is, and the atmosphere carries its sentiments far. Your feelings regarding how good it is is another story altogether.


I'm no pre-Socratic philosopher, but I'll have a crack at answering this.

With the lack of emotion, the main thing an ambient piece can offer is beauty or indeed any other strong sentiment (fear, loneliness etc.). Like a ticking clock or birdsong, beauty becomes ignored by the brain if you're constantly exposed to it. Sigur Ros' mistake in this album is that they expend all their efforts with trying to attain this beauty without creating much in the way of depth. There isn't even much in the way of variation to keep the beauty fresh.

It's as if you're slowly going colour-blind and Valtari is a huge block of bright colour. Once the image desaturates there's not even a picture to look at (emotion, story, hidden taints, subtle layers of sound). So yes, emotionless drivel - though certainly serviceable for the first couple of plays.

minty901
May 29th 2012



1962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"It's as if you're slowly going colour-blind and Valtari is a huge block of bright colour. Once the image desaturates there's not even a picture to look at"

best analogy i've ever heard.

i haven't listened to this yet. so far ive only heard takk... and most of agaetis. next on the list is ( ), then maybe this.

Archelaos
May 29th 2012



241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

With the lack of emotion, the main thing an ambient piece can offer is beauty or indeed any other strong sentiment (fear, loneliness etc.). Like a ticking clock or birdsong, beauty becomes ignored by the brain if you're constantly exposed to it. Sigur Ros' mistake in this album is that they expend all their efforts with trying to attain this beauty without creating much in the way of depth. There isn't even much in the way of variation to keep the beauty fresh.

It's as if you're slowly going colour-blind and Valtari is a huge block of bright colour. Once the image desaturates there's not even a picture to look at (emotion, story, hidden taints, subtle layers of sound). So yes, emotionless drivel - though certainly serviceable for the first couple of plays.


Beauty by way of ambiance usually elicits an emotional response from its listeners, even if repetitive in nature (have you heard Ravedeath 1972?) I get where you're coming from in making this analogous to the ticking of a clock, but I don't think it's that simple (music rarely is). Saying "beauty becomes ignored by the brain if you're constantly exposed to it" reminds me of the adage that too much of a good thing is a bad thing, or that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and while I can appreciate and sometimes agree with such notions, I don't think that the brain is prone to ignoring, or rather becoming accustomed to things that please the aesthetic senses, especially when compared to something limited to a very specific purpose (a clock).

Your second analogy works well in tandem with your first, suggesting that the lack of variation causes the album to become unsaturated, I just simply disagree with it. I think this is an easy album to dismiss as dull, drift-y ambiance but a hard one to open up to and truly appreciate. For me - and for many - patience is the key for this and many other albums, and what I initially thought to be uniform I've come to admire as being hauntingly beautiful and rather varied. To each their own though, and at any rate I appreciate the discussion and respect your opinion.



StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 29th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Hmmm, maybe I've just become a cynical bastard and this more (struggling to think of a word)
familiar kind of ambience just can't leave a mark any more. As a whole, the Ambient genre is one I'm
incredibly comfortable with, so perhaps listening to it has become something like a clockwork
routine.

As a counterpoint to the idea of patience, I'd like to bring up two albums from this year
that I believe demonstrate the rewards of patience to a much larger extent:

Listening Mirror - Resting in Aspic ( http://listening-mirror.bandcamp.com/album/resting-in-aspic )

Olan Mill - Paths ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFec3Vyx4b8 )

The subtle touch to be found in those albums is incredible, and of course it's possible that Valtari
contains a similar level of skill and, in my eagerness to accuse one of the world's most popular
bands of mediocrity, I simply haven't noticed. It just seems unlikely to me by this point; I did try
to get into the album.

And for sure, I don't expect the world or indeed anyone to agree with me. I just enjoy the
discussion.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 29th 2012



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with this review far more than the other two. Not as good as Ageatis Byrjun, ( ) or Takk... but still really enjoyable.

fuckthatnoise
May 29th 2012



1479 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is a pretty confusing album

i like it but i'm really not sure how much... my rating for this probably gonna end up depending on how much i feel like returning to it.



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