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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valtari: A Gentle Beast
On Valtari, Sigur Rós meld the melancholy introspection of 2002's '()' with the dense, classically charged electronic ambience of 2009's 'Riceboy Sleeps' album, by Jónsi and Alex. The result is an emotive hour of bittersweet abstraction;, shimmering piano keys, weeping strings and otherwordly singing invoke conflicting and complex emotions of joy and sadness...
Published on 29 May 2012 by Ananda

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Valtari Sigur Ros
A bit disappointing, hard to say why - you listen to it and do not remember anything that especially stands out
Published 19 months ago by clemency


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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valtari: A Gentle Beast, 29 May 2012
By 
Ananda (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Valtari (Audio CD)
On Valtari, Sigur Rós meld the melancholy introspection of 2002's '()' with the dense, classically charged electronic ambience of 2009's 'Riceboy Sleeps' album, by Jónsi and Alex. The result is an emotive hour of bittersweet abstraction;, shimmering piano keys, weeping strings and otherwordly singing invoke conflicting and complex emotions of joy and sadness all at the same time.

'Riceboy Sleeps' is one of my favourite records, and upon hearing Valtari's first promotional single, Ekki múkk, I had high hopes that the new album would capture the extremely emotive atmosphere of the former CD. Thankfully, it did. As album opener, Ég anda, begins, Jónsi's trademark howling takes you away from the everyday, and inside yourself- in to an introspective trance fueled by the music. Strings, guitar, and what sounds like ringing bells all emerge from the silence, and the sounds of waves lapping and the beat of the drum which gets faster and faster all wash over you, and then you know; Sigur Rós are here.

The track melts abruptly in to discordant electronic droning, before it re-emerges with a crackle, as Ekki múkk. Strings stir and Jónsi mews in a pleading tone; the vocal swirling around the violin, creating a sense of space and weight despite the frugality on display. Then the piano rains down, and Jónsi's voice soars, and your heart-strings are well and truly pulled. Ekki múkk effectively utilizes Jónsi's voice in the most devastating way; he sounds like a wounded animal, or a whale, or a plaintive man crying out to the sky. Ekki múkk slowly dies down again as quiet as it came- with only the languid piano strokes, expertly timed, left to keep you company.

Those piano keys are then warped, transmuted, as if placed under water, for track three, Varúš. Perhaps the most accessible of all the songs on Valtari, and therefore perhaps the least complex, Varúš is like Sęglópur from 'Takk...' meets Festival from 'Meš suš í eyrum viš spilum endalaust'. Jónsi cries along with the strings in the chorus, 'Varúš!' like a siren, an alarm gone off- and then the choir kicks in, and the drums come, and the song builds and builds- a giant warning 'this song is about to explode', and of course, it does, in classic Sigur Rós style (think track 8 from () ). A deafening cacophony envelops your brain as all the instruments and all the voices mingle under the crash of the drum.

Track 4, Rembihnútur, is a masterpiece. Gentle piano keys cascade haphazardly, like melting icicles, or a light rain. Jónsi coos and a barrage of sunny strings wrap the piano in a coherent texture; all the elements come together to form an extremely beautiful fabric of sound; a hopeful, magical sound, like the sun breaking through clouds. Then Jónsi sings a straightforward pop song, as the piano falls across his words and a joyous chorus kicks in; drums beating, a march- water breaking through rock, the sun shining brightly, rain coming down heavily. A huge range of wonderful images and emotions are evoked and stay with you long after the track resolves, squeaking like little birds waking up.

The sounds of lapping waves returns for Daušalogn, and over the waves comes a funereal choir. This is a dirge, and Jónsi wears his emotion on his sleeve; the chorus picks up as he sings delicately, sadly, and the ecclesiastical accompaniment wail solemnly like grief stricken angels. Daušalogn sees Jónsi sing his most emotional song yet as his voice cracks and weeps- you can hear his complaint. The track moves perfectly in to Varšeldur, with its dancing, meandering piano keys and glockenspiel, and Jónsi's charming mewing (reminiscent of Untitled #1 ('Vaka') all brought together by an operatic lullaby later in the piece. The whole album floats in this way, above the mundane, above the Earth even (the lack of groundedness may be off-putting, to some) in an insular, subjective space where a sense of religiosity and comfortable isolation prevail.

The two songs together work extremely well; and in fact the whole album is surprisingly consistent, considering the sketchy process it went through before it was compiled. Valtari feels like one hour long song of multifarious moods and shifting landscapes of sonic texture (again, reminiscent of '()' ). It requires repeated listening to grasp just how dense it is. There's very little black and white in this album, only shades of grey- the music molds to your mood, to your state of mind and your surroundings; they all mutually enliven one another. If you listen to this when you are sleepy, it will knock you out (especially the latter three instrumental tracks; Fjögur píanó will gently, exquisitely lull you in to a deep, restful sleep). If you listen to this in the rain, it will be about rain. If you listen in the sun it will be about the warm summer's day and how the light dances on the leaves.

Like any work of art, it is fundamentally subjective; it requires your attention and interaction if you want to feel the benefit of listening- otherwise you will find it boring, too ambient, too opaque. Despite the album's density (hence, 'Beast'), I find it surprisingly transparent- this is an album, like Riceboy Sleeps, that adapts to the listener- it is whatever you make of it, it is whatever you feel at the time you are listening, and for that reason it is endlessly listenable, always unfolding in new, and beautiful ways.

PROS- Gorgeous, richly textured ambient music as moving as any Sigur Rós have ever made.

CONS- Amongst the band's least accessible music; some fans of the previous two albums may be disappointed at the new direction, and so will people who just can't connect with the more musical (ie ambient) atmosphere of the album. I think the album is also slightly heavy on the instrumentals at the end (they should have spread out them out evenly).

4.5/5- Highly Recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quiet is not always bad, 20 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Valtari (Audio CD)
Having been a great fan of Sigur Ros for a large part of the last decade, the prospect of any new album release from this quartet of wonderful musicians is something which I relish with great anticipation, and the first listen of their previous material never fails to disappoint.
Their latest offering however, has been a little different.
I would class it as a 'grower'.
Upon a first listen, Valtari seems completely unlike any previous Sigur Ros albums - although the major ingredients are all there (Jón Žór Birgisson's haunting falsetto, beautiful string sections etc.) they seem to have been mixed differently. The result is not the slap-in-the-face attack on the senses that previous albums provided. Rather, it just hums a little, tingling away at the back of your mind. It is initially not distasteful or unpleasant, it just is not what you expect. However, with perseverance and repeated listening (my preference is when I am alone in the car) you hear little snippets of what makes Sigur Ros music so great, and when you piece them all together it begins to make sense.
There is none of the bombastic, orchestral Post Rock-ness found in ( ) or Meš suš í eyrum viš spilum endalaust, and there are no hum-alongs like Hoppipolla or Sęglópur.
But it grows and grows and grows. And you eventually find that you can't help falling in love with their music once again.

They may have changed direction slightly but it is under no circumstances a wrong turn.
It challenges you as a listener unlike any other Sigur Ros album, but like a difficult jigsaw, when you place the pieces in the right order, it is so satisfying.

Once again I find myself eager for their next commercial release, curious as to what they will provide their audience with this time.

(A note on Amazon delivery - once again they provided a good service. A price that can't be beaten, particularly as I live in Luxembourg. Good job all round)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars () revisited and much much more, 18 April 2013
This review is from: Valtari (Audio CD)
Valtari is a stunningly beautiful album. More akin to () than anything since with a greater focus on mood than their recent work. That's not to say that Valtari doesn't contain songs with whopping great hooks on (coz it does - see 'Varud') but the whole second half of the album is their most relaxed and ambient side I've heard yet. Pretty potent stuff and definitely worth repeat listens; which is when the full power of this record becomes apparent.

I don't think this is their best album, it lacks the scope of their previous albums (Med Sud excluded) but I do think this represents a perfection of their 'Pure Beauty' side. Looking forward to hearing their 'Dirty' side again on Kveikur!

This album especially reminded me of a UK band called Takeda, google 'Takeda Regret' I guarantee if you enjoyed this you'll enjoy Takeda.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The beautiful music of Valtari., 30 Oct 2012
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Fell in love with this album through a lovely blog that I visit.
It is hauntingly beautiful and transports you to another enchanting dimension.
I play over and over again and have been asked by friends who the artist is.
You will not be disappointed the music is wonderful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 July 2014
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This review is from: Valtari (Audio CD)
My wife loves it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Chill Man Chill!, 17 April 2014
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This review is from: Valtari (Audio CD)
Hi I bought this as I really like Chicane and I have been impressed with Sigor Ros with the joint efforts that have been released.

It is a very laid back and relaxing CD to listen to, just perfect after a stressful day at work to just sit and unwind!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 22 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Valtari (Audio CD)
I just can't get enough of it! I consider it maybe the best of all Sigur Ros albums. Ethereal, moving, it transports the listener to another dimension.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection ......... worth the wait, 28 May 2012
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This review is from: Valtari (MP3 Download)
if angels exist & make music it'll sound exactly like this, beautiful. This is their first album since 2008 & its a wonderous, fragile, delicate, gorgeous, masterpiece ....
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mellowness personified, 29 May 2012
This review is from: Valtari (Audio CD)
All album reviews are subjective, but I personally think this is a fantastic album. Nothing flashy, showy or over the top, but a well cultured soundscape that just lets you escape where-ever you're at.

If you want to know how this album sounds, just look at the front cover .. it tells you everything you want to know. I've never known album art to match the mood of an album so obviously.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Valtari Sigur Ros, 10 Jan 2013
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A bit disappointing, hard to say why - you listen to it and do not remember anything that especially stands out
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Valtari by Sigur Rós (Audio CD - 2012)
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