Released on May 29, 2012
You can forgive Sigur Rós for being hazy on the details of the recording of
their sixth album Valtari. It’s either the album they always wanted to make,
or the album they almost didn’t make, depending on how you look at it.
In 2011, the band started the painstaking forensic task of piecing together
a cohesive and magical work from disparate constituent parts. If this sounds
unromantic, the results are anything but. Something alchemical occurs when
the four members of Sigur Rós are in the room together, and even if Valtari
is more a “studio based” album than any of its predecessors (which usually
start life as rehearsal room jams), the long hours of experimentation and
unsentimental editing have yielded incredibly persuasive results.
In English Valtari translates as “steamroller” and there is something right
about the title in terms of the process of its creation. The last three tracks of
Valtari are like one long slow gorgeous fade out, as the listener, having
been softened up by the slightly more “song-y” start to the album, is left with
the subtly shifting, deep introspective beauty of the last 24 minutes.
After that, penultimate track, Valtari is like the far heart of the album; eight
minutes that feel like being alone in row boat on a chill day, small irregular
waves lapping the wooden hull as a dense fog bank rolls in and ice slowly
encases every surface. Below the fathomless green, deep endures.