When: Tue., April 2, 8 p.m. 2013
On last year’s Valtari (XL), their first album in four years, Iceland’s Sigur Ros retreated inward, abandoning the almost poppy direction they’d embraced since 2005’s Takk. The new record is gorgeously lush and accessible, but for the most part it lacks the thumping beats and clearly delineated melodies of the band’s recent work—the songs on Valtari feel like a series of shimmering clouds billowing in slow motion. Each of these hovering, ethereal structures contains a mixture of soaring orchestral strings, angelic children’s choirs, sweetly chiming tuned percussion, sepulchral and effects-heavy guitar, underwater piano, coloristic noise (scratchy vinyl, nature sounds), and the trademark falsetto of front man Jonsi Birgisson. They rise and fall in density and drama, with a beauty as ephemeral as a sky at sunset.
In a recent Wire feature Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never) dismissed not only the plausibility of linear aesthetic development but also the notion that there’s one idea that naturally follows another. “I don’t like those sort of career arcs that are like, ‘And then he totally threw everything down the shitter and made this totally new record.’ It’s simply not true.’” That said, his latest album as OPN, 2011’s Replica (Software), added a new element to the ethereal washes and rhythmic pulsations he creates with vintage synthesizers, disrupting them or scuffing them up with looped samples of audio from 80s TV commercials he found at the website Videomercials. Lopatin’s irresistible tracks are woozy with saccharine tunefulness, but their constant dislocating transformations make them hard to get a handle on despite their poplike concision. —Peter Margasak Sigur Ros headlines.