Sigur Rós | Oct9

Published on August 25th, 2013


The hardcore fans know. Sigur Rós’ up-coming October 9 show at the Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park is not the Icelandic band’s first show in Miami. Those fans were there, on Feb. 25, 2007, at the Adrienne Arsht Center (then known as the Carnival Center) when the band was squirreled away, out of sight in the orchestra pit, offering up musical accompaniment to a dance performance choreographed by a pair of giant dice rolled by the legendary avant-garde dance pioneer Merce Cunningham. Not that they knew who Cunningham was and why Sigur Rós would give such a shit to fly to Miami to perform some appropriately un-Sigor Rós like music that creaked more than offered ambiance, or even rhythm, in near anonymity. But, yes, these fans were there, peeking over the wall to wave at Jonsi and the boys while the now deceased Cunningham spoke from a wheelchair about the concept of chance and artistic effort forced to take a backseat to chaos.

Fast forward more than six years later, and here comes the Sigur Rós Miami fans have been waiting for. Well, minus keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Jon Thor Birgisson (a.k.a. Jonsi ) now creates the music of Sigur Rós with fellow founding mate bassist Georg Hólm and longtime drummer/percussionist Orri Páll Dýrason. The band’s seventh album, Kveikur, saw release earlier this year. For a trio, the end-product stands as one of the most potent Sigur Rós albums ever. Maybe it had something to do with Jonsi going solo for an album and tour in 2010, but this is a Sigur Rós re-born.

Opening with a downright industrial rumble and thud, Kveikur weaves a pastiche of some of the tightest and most dynamic songs of Sigur Rós’ career, which broke out internationally in 1999 with the band’s mystical and enchanting second album Ágætis Byrjun. Much of the new album features layers of clanging percussion, roaring horns and Jonsi’s vocals way up-front, in contrast to the band’s previous album, 2012’s ambient, near-vocal-free Valtari.

The grim opener offers quite an opening statement, but there are bright spots. The majestic “Ísjaki” moves from thudding percussion and yawning strings to soaring screeches of electric guitar. “Rafstraumur” offers a brilliant moment of driving guitars, pounding drums and glockenspiels and layers of soaring voices. With the help of as many as eight other supplemental musicians, Sigur Rós is bound to reproduce its bombastic sound and intricate layers of stillness to profound effect, making it the Miami show many Sigur Rós fans have long wanted to hear and see.
~Hans Morgenstern | The Independent Ethos