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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 June 2012
What can you say about an album like this, or indeed a group like Sigur Ros. There is nothing remotely comparable - the music at its best is so densely atmospheric that it is almost on the realm of the transcendent. I would not want to listen to this every day of the week, or indeed that often, but at its best it is utterly beautiful and there are not many groups or musicians out there that can attain that with any level of integrity. Astonishing.
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on 19 January 2015
A marvellous gift for Mrs J. Echoes of many Icelandic visits. Sigur captures the essential spirit of the landscape.
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on 13 September 2012
Like many previous reviewers, I have to start by expressing my dear love for this band. I'm pretty sure I own every release they've made and have taken many hours of joy from them. I suspect, however, that the hours spent listening to this album will not match the others, except perhaps Von.

Where Von was hugely self-indulgent, wandering and inaccessible, there is something to be forgiven, what with it being a first album: a band's message to the world that they intend to turn music on its head. Perhaps Valtari is an attempt to recapture that spirit but to me it seems like a number of lovely, albeit undeveloped works. There are exceptions: the opening track and track 5 seem much more complete and make great listening.

But consider track 6, Varfeldur: in its other guise as Luppulagid (on Inni, both film and CD) it acts as a wonderful epilogue to a great concert. A pretty outro, if you will. On Valtari it starts winding down the album - not a great thing for track 6 on an 8-track album.

It'll certainly get brought out fairly regularly so I can sample its wonderful highlights, but it won't come close to their previous 4 albums.
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on 31 May 2012
Throw me in the mire with the rest of the apologists with this one, as i too am a huge Sigur Ros fan, but as you can probably decipher from my supercilious title for this review i was regrettably disappointed by this album. Let me start with the positives though, firstly Sigur Ros have shown considerable courage in choosing to mainly avoid post rock cliches this time around, the most obviously absent of these being the slow build tension and cathartic release technique that i personally think has been done to death over recent years. Admittedly These guys do it better than almost anybodyelse which can be evidenced in all of their previous albums post Von.

This decision to move in a new direction leaving behind arguably the bands greatest strengh is something i can't help but admire and occasionally it's been known to yield some truely amazing results the most recent example being when Radiohead decided to move away from the highly successful alt rock of Ok Computer to the abstract electronica of Kid A. Unfortunately for Sigur Ros though this album is more comparable to R.E.M's transition from the sprawling eclecticism of New Adventures to the politely underwhelmng Up which although pretty, failed to really captivate or galvanize a strong emotional reaction like their previous work had done.

Valtari doesn't do anything audaciously wrong here, the music like Up is also pretty, delicately ambient and i'd imagine quite soothing to listen to if you had a migraine or were looking to get an early night and needed something relaxing to help you doze off. That last sentence might sound unfairly flippant but the unobtrusive feel of this album doesn't do anything to elevate Sigur Ros to the next level of musical perfection (i think they already achieved that with agaetis byrjun). Instead it justs sounds a little tired and lacking in ideas, the less is more approach is something they're not necessarily unfamiliar with () is faily narrow in scope and repeats a similar formula throughout it's 8 tracks, the differences between the two abums though are that () has a devastatingly powerful feel that is capable of flooring you at various times throughtout it's 70 minute playing time. Valtari has no such moments and remains largely innocuous throughout, comapared to Sigur Ros's former albums this sounds plaintively tame, taken on it's own merits it's a pleasant collection of ambient soundscapes that are ideal for background music.
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on 31 May 2012
Its very difficult for me to write an unbiased Sigur Ros review, I just love this band the music, artwork and the films/videos. I will say this is certainly a more experimental record and harks back to the soundscapes of the () album and has a lot in common with The Riceboy Sleeps album (Alex Sommers he of Jonsi and Alex also worked with the band on this LP) as a result its a very ambient affair in places.

Valtari only has the odd hints of Takk or Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust and very little in the way of the crashing percussion which had become a big part of the bands sound. This is definitely a change of pace and direction. It is however on some level strangely familiar with some choral arrangements reminiscent of their earlier work on Odins Raven Magic. This is in no way a bad thing from the first track you know instantly that this is a Sigur Ros record but the familiarity for me works in perfect balance with the bands experimental side.

Sigur Ros are back and I for one am very glad.
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on 10 January 2013
A bit disappointing, hard to say why - you listen to it and do not remember anything that especially stands out
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on 3 July 2012
8 tracks, 3 of them instrumental. Most of tracks 1-5 (the vocal tracks) are pretty good, verging on excellent in places, whilst tracks 6-8 (instrumental) are decent, atmospheric pieces but fail to really hold my attention. Theres moments that are reminiscent of Alright Start, places where samples and electronic stuff has more prominence than on the last few albums which for my money is a refreshing change, but on several tracjks i felt they ended too swiftly. I'd have to put this album behind 'Alright Start', 'Behind ()', Behind Tak. So its in 4th place for me right now; flashes of brilliance let down by a lack of quantity.
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After numerous solo records, Sigur Ros return. It's not a big world they live in (I doubt they will ever show their metal direction, despite protestations that they are), and if anything, their palette, wonderful as it is, is drearily predictable and utterly formulaic these days, half-heard pianos, wordless harmonies, dribbling, leaking guitar and rhythms that stutter. But what a palette it is.

For the majority of this somewhat unmoving record, Sigur Ros stand still. In the best sense of the word, that is, by gazing out. The songs are unhurried, shorn of the relatively conventional idea of choruses and lyrics, instead, focusing on an idea, a feeling.

It's a band that wouldn't exist without an exhausted middle class. Not that there is much in the way of invention here. This could be the same as any record they have made in the past decade : the same, ageless and timeless production, the unmoving sounds of guitars strung to infinity, the harmonies and choruses. Is it any good? Of course it is. It's just the same as their other records, a evocative soundtrack for a tired, exhausted, hopeful meditation, a way of escaping the world as it is, set inside a aural soundscape of joy and sadness - soy, jadness? - that is our world.

"Ekki Mukk" though, what a title, hints at the sly humour that often sits within the bands work. It's not exactly an arresting listen, but a meditative one : imagine (and here I used to dreaded words 'post' and 'rock'), that conjurs up the kind of meditative minimalism, where nothing happens, so even the slightest variance is of great import, that characterised some parts of Pink Floyd, and latterly, Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky and parts of Moby's work. Here, the brain rests, goes somewhere else, and explores the inner world, instead of focusing on the prison of bass, rhythm, guitars, vocals, to a more abstract land.

Sure, I can talk for paragraphs about this absence as a presence in itself, but more than that, Sigur Ros are off again, making a soundverse their own, creating a record where what you don't hear, what you think you hear, the record in your head that doesn't exist is as important as anything else. A triumph on their own terms.
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on 31 May 2012
Varúð track is my favourite and is haunting, powerful and beautiful, the rest is just growing on me. The use of the Choir in Dauðalogn works incredibly well with Sigur Ros's sound and I hope they do more in that vain. Nothing clever to say exept this is an excellent album of thought provoking ambient music. Still dont know what they are singing about and I have no intention of finding out.
Glad their are other people who love their music. I'm on my own in my liking their music everyone I know finds it too depressing and the language a barrier, their loss!
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on 4 July 2012
It's not a disappointment. It is a Sigur Ros album. It does have moments of crystalline beauty and some of the piano pieces are heartbreaking. However, it also has long....in fact make that very long segments of ambient doodling which bear neither beat nor melody. I'm not used to calling Sigur Ros albums background music, but some of the stuff doesn't bear intense listening. Their signature is still all over the music and I'm still playing the songs and discovering more in them. It is a calming piece of work, which some might just find uninteresting. The moments of beauty outweigh the ennui...just.
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