Sigur Rós will return with their sixth studio album, "Valtari" (XL Recordings) on May 29. The first track, “Ekki Múkk,” is now streaming on the Icelandic band’s website, sigurros.com.
"Valtari" will be released on double LP, CD and digital download. It is the first studio album since 2008 and marks the end of their indefinite hiatus.
The songs on this 54-minute album feel like an alternative musical path the band didn’t take after 2002’s untitled ( ) album. Frequently bereft of formal structures, and for large stretches of time more atmospheres than songs, the work – which the band has described as sounding “like an avalanche in slow motion” – offers a counterpoint to Sigur Rós’s steady yet unconscious migration towards public acceptance.
In English, "Valtari" translates as “steamroller,” and there is something right about the title in terms of the process of its creation. More of a “studio based” album than any of its predecessors, the long hours of experimentation and unsentimental editing have yielded incredible results.
Some songs have roots in earlier times. “Dauðalogn” and “Varðeldur” emerged out of sessions on the back of "Takk," but the choral ideas behind them stem from as far back as 2002 and an orchestral collaboration with the 16 Choir; 2009 sessions in the wake of the last album, resulted in some individually beautiful moments - three of which - “Rembihnútur,” “Fjögur piano,” and “Valtari” live here. But it was hard to draw a line between them, and the band found focusing on such elusive music hard to do for any sustained period.
They essentially put the record on hold. In 2010, singer Jónsi went off to make and tour for his expansive, critically-acclaimed solo album "Go." Keyboardist Kjartan spent time on his classically-inclined, unreleased work, "Credo."
A film scoring opportunity led to the creation of the towering and majestic "Varúð," arguably the record’s centerpiece. Scouting around for a closing credit song for last year’s live film, "Inni," the band unearthed "Lúppulagið," which, in its reworked choral form is here titled “Varðeldur,” one of the album’s most understated and elegant songs.
The process of making "Valtari," and the end results, are described by bassist Georg Holm:
“I really can’t remember why we started this record, I no longer know what we were trying to do back then. I do know session after session went pear-shaped, we lost focus and almost gave up...did give up for a while. But then something happened and form started to emerge, and now I can honestly say that it’s the only Sigur Rós record I have listened to for pleasure in my own house after we’ve finished it.”
Sigur Rós are: Jón Þór Birgisson (vocals, guitar), Georg Holm (bass), Kjartan Sveinsson (keyboards/piano), Orri Páll Dýrason (drums). "Valtari" was recorded by the band in Iceland.
Valtari track listing:
1. Ég anda.
2. Ekki múkk.
8. Fjögur píanó.
8. Fjögur píanó.