It has been some little while -- about four years -- since Sigur Ros last delivered a new album of their glacially epic sound, which for many had become beautifully executed and hypnotic but rather interchangeable. So you wonder what they might come back with.
Last year they seemed to have put a punctation point on the first phase of their career with the live album/DVD Inni.
Their singer Jonsi had also offered a sophisticated if rather Teflon "pop" album (he also did the to soundtrack to We Bought a Zoo) so perhaps we might have expected a kind of "hope you like our new direction" album.
Sigur Ros return with the winning formula intact if erring a little more to the ambient rather than the consistent sky-scaling grandeur of their earlier work. This all sheets of voices -- arranged like a cathedral choir in God's waiting room on the soundtrack-like Dauologn -- and equally planar keyboard swathes designed with operatic sweep and which move from sometimes unsettling intimacy to the sweeping you up on the wings of angels.
There is always an undeniable and indefinable beauty about Sigur Ros, and here there are hints that new reference points might be the German group Popol Vuh (the wispery title track) as much as the canvas of their own design.
Interestingly the track Ekki Mukk - which sounds rather grubby -- is "translated" on the You Tube clip below as to mean "moving art", which is pretty much what this album is.
In slo-mo for the most part as on the lovely an understated closer Fjogur Piano . . . except when those angel wings take you higher and higher into swirling masses of clouds on the exceptional Varuo.
Business as usual in some ways, but not exactly the usual business in the world of contemporary music.
Like the sound of this? Then check out this.
By Graham Reid, posted