Sigur Ros
Route One


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kirk Bowman CONTRIBUTOR (61 Reviews)
May 23rd, 2018 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: post-human

Sigur Ros are, or were, a post rock band. This means they have always had to deal with the genre’s criticism tropes - the idea that music is always better if it's bigger, louder, darker, more complex. Agaetis Bryjun succeeded because it was a masterpiece, but it also did well because it fit the rock narrative of 2000. It was genuinely progressive music in an era where Kid A scared people because it sounded too much like Aphex Twin and not enough like Blur. As Sigur Ros became less complex, smaller, and subtler over the 18 years since Agaetis, they have lost much of their following, while post-rock as a genre has become a punchline. Meanwhile, Jonsi and friends have pretty much left their original sound behind besides their voices. Route One is their latest project. It is fully computer-generated, with the only human touch being the original sample (a track called "Ovedur" from 2016, bringing a new meaning to the concept of lead single), along with their decision to crop the project down from twenty four hours to forty minutes. This reflects Sigur Ros's continued effort to evolve. A technique like this is virtually unheard of in music, especially from a band as popular as they are. Using auto-generative software shows an attitude of submission and acceptance of help into a genre built off of ideas of auteurs, dominance and control. This is rare and ought to be celebrated. Art is obviously political, and Sigur Ros are pushing back against both the role of the artist as creator and of the creator as the ruler of the art.

The original 24-hour piece was meant to accompany a ride all the way down the real Route One, referenced with each track title reflecting a highly specific location. Like every Sigur Ros project, this is a journey, even outside of the obvious literal explanation. But rather than a clear path filled with joys and sorrows, it is the sound of perseverance. Sounding more like a drone album than a post-rock one, it is long, stretched, and redundant. Wave after wave of sound hits over and over again, requiring patience, attention and a very specific mood to really seep into the most meaningful aural cracks. However, it's worth the effort. Despite having somewhat less of an emotional core, the work goes beyond what many would assume is just a pretentious art project. The path from hopeless to hopeful is subtle, but audible through the slow, natural tone changes. One of the greatest criticisms of post-rock is that it over-relies on music tropes (particularly the quiet-loud crescendo dynamic) to sort of force emotions, perhaps inauthentically. This cannot really apply to Route One as its progression is entirely natural, both objectively (in that its process of creation implies a lack of human motivations, thus creating instant authenticity) and subjectively. As strings continue to slide in and out, wavelengths reduce, mirroring the slow regaining of passion and excitement after a wall of meaninglessness. It's not clear exactly what this means, and I suspect members of Sigur Ros don’t know either, but it feels as if it’s looking forward. It's not as optimistic as they have been in the past. There's no ultimate joy to the performance, no racing heartbeat, just the surging in and out of the mental tide, with a slight glance to the skies saving it and us from despair. This is perhaps a more realistic and reflective look on life, one that would more easily come from something without an agenda, and it is another stepping stone on their seemingly impossible path through music, but it is not one that’s easy to hear. Regardless, it represents something important, beautiful, and striking. Even if it cannot quite stand up to the best of the catalog of one of the most critically acclaimed bands ever, it is still a persuasive piece that is absolutely worth listening to on a lonely night. With the night comes the light, and Sigur Ros understand that better than anyone working in music today. Sometimes it’s best just to let the day go.



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user ratings (29)
Chart.
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
granitenotebook
Contributing Reviewer
May 22nd 2018


909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

streaming: https://open.spotify.com/album/6XnO4f89GqgNSRXM0n2WYH?si=wwIEsuKqSX6PpRicHPiAig

s/o to con and thespaceman for helping completely rehash and refine this review into something much better

critique welcome



Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 22nd 2018


24755 Comments


great job man, have an easy pos. the concept of this album sounds so cool, might have to check just cuz of that

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 22nd 2018


16051 Comments


Beautiful write up man. As a Sigur Ros fanbitch, I'll jam this. Have a pos.

Digging: Fire! Orchestra - Arrival

Darius the Great
May 22nd 2018


20607 Comments


So this is an algorithmically autogenerated album?

TheSpaceMan
May 22nd 2018


11960 Comments


eyy fantastic review man, you've managed the 'history' aspect to be informative and interesting without coming off as a lecturer, which is a very delicate thing to accomplish. I love the awareness of post-rock's shortcomings and context, and the actual descriptions and vibes of the record are conveyed like butter

plus the concept of the record itself and how it came to be in relationship with everything i mentioned above is slid in perf

Darius the Great
May 22nd 2018


20607 Comments


Yeah pretty much perfect review.
I'd divide the last paragraph into two maybe just to make it easier on the eyes

SteakByrnes
May 23rd 2018


14935 Comments


Great review my friend :]

Digging: Imminence - Turn The Light On

Divaman
May 23rd 2018


3680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'd divide the last paragraph into two maybe just to make it easier on the eyes [2]



Very well written and interesting, though. Pos.

Digging: Soen - Lotus

FacelessMan
May 23rd 2018


1050 Comments


well this came out of nowhere


AsleepInTheBack
May 23rd 2018


5994 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Neat review. Managed to snag this on vinyl, lovely record.

SAPoodle
May 23rd 2018


702 Comments


Great review

Digging: Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place

onionbubs
May 23rd 2018


11535 Comments


wait wtf they have something out now?

Digging: The Dangerous Summer - Mother Nature

rodrigo90
May 24th 2018


5311 Comments


In the first song they tried too hard to return to the sound of von, I guess.

Divaman
May 27th 2018


3680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Can anyone explain why this is listed as a compilation?

Underflow
June 5th 2018


4867 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No idea why this hasn't gotten more buzz. It's a new Sigur Ros recording.

AsleepInTheBack
June 6th 2018


5994 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Can anyone explain why this is listed as a compilation"



"No idea why this hasn't gotten more buzz"



In a rough answer to both, I don't think the band have really marketed this one as their new big release or as their new LP, it seemed more like a niche fan service thing, released on a couple of very limited vinyl pressings first and only later released digitally. Still, it does deserve more attention.

Demon of the Fall
June 6th 2018


10861 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not sure how I missed this, goes to show that without Sputnik I'm completely lost when it comes to new releases. New Sigur Ros demands my attention, regardless.

Digging: Revocation - Chaos of Forms

Demon of the Fall
June 7th 2018


10861 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm undecided on how much I like this so far, after a couple of spins it's mainly pleasant with a couple of slightly jarring moments which seem out of place in the context of the overall record.



I refuse to believe this is only a 3/5 though, want more.

AsleepInTheBack
June 7th 2018


5994 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, i mean, it has the natural tropes of auto-generative music, sometimes lacking direction, sometimes having a jarring moment or two. still exceptionally pleasant though, and interesting

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
July 21st 2018


18494 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review. This does deserve more attention, being the pure ambient album some fans have wanted them to make for a while now.

Digging: Flying Lotus - Flamagra



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