Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Sigur Rós – Óveður

It’s Icelandic Day! No, come back….


Iain Mew: The first time I heard Sigur Rós, it was unknowingly. I got a track on a filesharing site mislabelled as being from Radiohead’s forthcoming Amnesiac, when really it was the awesome drift and clatter of “Ný Batterí.” Eighteen months later and I knew what I was getting into with their untitled/brackets album, but it still touched an emotional nerve and slowly sawing away at it that hasn’t been matched since and which came at exactly the right moment in my life; another five years later I saw a TV drama which used it to soundtrack a self-harm scene and gulped and wanted to run from the room. I parted ways with the band after that album before we even got to “Poppiholla” et al, but “Óveður” takes me back. The combination of the alien din of its percussion and the way that its sonic intimacy scrapes along the edge of uncomfortable offer a new combination of their most memorable bits, neatly scaled down to fit a life not needing quite the same outpourings of undefined catharsis.

Thomas Inskeep: Sounds like Sigur Rós have been listening to latter-day Massive Attack, but unfortunately all they seem to have picked up is the plod. I always preferred when SR were presented in a bit more <a href=””>upbeat fashion</a> myself. 

Alfred Soto: Scratches, mysterious female vocals, somnolent beats — who would ever have thought that Massive Attack in 2002 had an influence? Throw in some Knife and we have Saturday night.

Katie Gill: This song is syrup pouring from a jar, a slow, methodical steady drip of vocals and chords that builds up to sharp gunfire-like protrusions — over the same slow, methodical, steady drip. I can’t help but feel like the song’s building to a climax that never really comes. It puts the ‘”experimental” in experimental rock” in a way that I don’t think ever pays off.

Tim de Reuse: Each phrase tunnels under the next from a chord that may or may not be a cadence, slowly building into a woozy climax of detuned strings, stuttering noise, and a snare that sounds like a drum machine being dropped from a great height onto a gravel road. I appreciate Sigur Ros putting their considerable powers of mysterious haze to good use towards a new frontier, but the tinkling pianos in the background are so standard for the band at this point that I get the impression they haven’t whole-heartedly committed to their new vibe yet — and that’s a shame! I wonder if there exists a rawer, crunchier, riskier version of this, forgotten on an automatic backup of a MacBook Pro somewhere, and whether or not that form compares favorably to the one we got instead.

Cassy Gress: “Storm,” they call it, and a storm this is — for the first half of the song it sounds like sitting in a dark sewer, looking up at the moon through a grate. At around the halfway mark, the entire song pushes itself up and lurches clumsily away, screeching and clattering like a datamoshed rough beast slouching to Bethlehem. Reverbing through the song’s wake in the final seconds, Jonsi’s voice is mixed further forward, the song fixing you with a baleful glare before evaporating.

Will Adams: The cinematic beauty of Sigur Rós’ music always gave me comfort, a brief pause that could block out external pressure with its gentle orchestration and gentler build. Instead, “Óveður” immediately veers from that, with a track that hisses and pops like a dark factory, with wavering synth drones that sound like they’ve been slowed down 16x. Jónsi’s voice still has that calm and caring tone; paired with the explosions around him here, it’s as if he’s guiding me through the storm.

Brad Shoup: Anyone can melt a Leslie cabinet and they will have me. But I can be lost in many, many other ways: wet pistons, vocal drudgery, what have you.

Reader average: [4] (1 vote)

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