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Album Review | POST-ROCK

Sigur Rós’ ‘Valtari’ like an inconsequential fantasy

The Icelandic post-rock outfit Sigur Rós has built its foundation on the skillful manipulation of moods, but its sixth album is more like a dose of musical lithium. Unlike other instrumental post-rock architects (otherworldly Sigur Rós sprite Jónsi tends to deliver musical texture more than lyrics with his voice), who erect elaborate monuments of sound, all soaring and waning explosions, the mood here is largely static. The result is a flattened-out horizon line of sensory deprivation on songs such as “Ekki múkk,” built around a pensive piano chord and the crackle of a spinning film reel. A string section seems poised to lift the proceedings into the ether, but remains anchored. Similarly “Varðeldur” doesn’t stray far from its central idea, a gentle piano riff and the sustained murmur of unintelligibly manipulated vocal sounds. It’s like hearing voices inside your head from a source just beyond the veil of reality. The songs don’t move in any linear progression, but open into a dimension of aural space. Without any sense of grounding, the record seems like an inconsequential fantasy. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL: “Ekki múkk”

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