Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
Something has stirred in the northern wastelands. A thawing, a warming perhaps? Green shoots have poked their tender heads from beneath the snow. Whatever it is that has happened this, the sixth album from Sigur Ros, is different.
Whilst still being obviously and distinctively the work of Iceland’s finest soundscapers there is a palpable change of feel here, almost as if they’ve said to themselves ‘Enough with the brow furrowing seriousness, let’s play’, this is the sound of a band at the top of their game playing it loose and deliberately not conforming to expectation.
Case in point is opener ‘Gobbledigook’, surely titled with tongue placed firmly in cheek, the track features flamenco-esque guitars and a driving rhythm section alongside the more familiar Sigur ingredients. Perhaps this has all come as a result of the band recording outside of Iceland for the first time and working alongside uber-producer Flood. By all accounts the band and Flood had an initially hostile start to their relationship before bonding over conversations about microphones, thus proving Geek is a truly international language.
Next up is the distinctly jolly ‘Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur’ where Jon Thor Birgisson’s voice is pushed right up in the mix, as it is across much of the album, and accompanied by some truly luscious brass and strings.
There’s still plenty here for the Sigur traditionalist, ‘Goaan Daginn’ is wonderfully ghostly and ‘Festival’ builds and builds against a background of spectral strings and rolling drums until it eventually explodes in to a thrilling climax of chorus and brass, stunning. ‘Ara Batur’ is another slow builder, clocking in at nearly nine minutes, but again worth the wait as angelic choir and massive strings, the track features a 70 piece orchestra, gradually make their presence felt.
By and large though, this record is the sound of a band breaking a mould, of a band prepared to flex its creative muscles and see what else it can do and they do it very successfully. Ironically ‘With A Buzz In Our Ears We Play Endlessly’ is their most Post-Rock album title and their least Post-Rock album. Whilst nature film makers of the world may be disappointed that they have not just provided another soundtrack to the next BBC series, I for one applaud their sense of adventure.
Released 23/06/2008 on EMI