This Tuesday I’m only going to mention one release. A release that I’m superbly happy to report on. June 18th brings us the release of the 2nd album in 13 months from Icelandic ambient rock outfit, Sigur Ros. On May 23, 2012, Ros released their sixth studio album, Valtari, their first in approximately four years. As a huge fan of these guys and their stellar music, the wait was horribly dreadful. The album though is wonderful, as is all of their music. Not as “loud” as the two previous outings, Takk … in 2005 and Med sud I eyrum vio spilum endalaust in 2008 (you may recall a song from this album being featured in the James Franco pic 127 Hours called Festival), Valtari took more of a calming approach, meaning basically the drums aren’t as prevalent. It’s an album to listen to out at sea, among calm waters, as can be referenced by the album’s cover. It’s not my favorite album of theirs, but it was nice to be reintroduced to them after four long years. And now, today, I’m even more excited.
I first heard these guys way back in 2001 when I first saw one of my all-time favorite movies. I know I will, and I’m prepared to, catch a lot of flak for this, but Vanilla Sky is a wonderful movie. Cameron Crowe is a hell of a director and mingle him with a science fiction plot, a super sexy Cameron Diaz (it was ’01, remember?), a shirtless Penelope Cruz, a funny-ass Jason Lee, and a Tom Cruise who acts (I can only assume) exactly like the real life Tom Cruise and what you’ve got is uniquely original story . . . that 65% of the world’s population utterly despises. I love it though, not only because I tend to have a strong connection with a film if the soundtrack is as impressive as this one was/is, but because Cruise gives his most authentic performance as a vanity-laden, rich-prick asshole, who discovers the errors of his ways through the love of a woman who stands as his polar opposite, only to rediscover that he can no longer have what he truly needs to be happy, and it’s his own greedy fault. Sure, it plays out like a love song to The Twilight Zone, but it’s a good song (not to mention a great show), and one that deserves more love than it receives. Though only one Ros track is included on the official CD soundtrack, Svefn-G-Englar, the film is backed by their music throughout and it was that music that initially caught my attention with the film. At a time when downloading music was new and excited and illegal (Lars, you’re a douche), I exhausted many an hour trying to find music from a band that the United States was blissfully unaware of, but I did eventually find Svefn-G-Englar and have remained a life-long fan of Sigur Ros ever since.
I had no idea until last week that this seventh album, Kveikur, was even being worked on, much less released today. My heart is pounding like the angelic strumming that comes out during the second half of Festival – if you’re clueless to this song, check out the video below, I believe it is fan-made and there's not a lot to it other than pure nature, but the song is incredible. In fact, if you're not into the whole nature thing, I recommend starting it, turning the volume way up, and then going about whatever chores, or whatever else, you have to do. I had a chance to preview the first release from this album, Isjaki, but I chose not to due to the fact that these albums, these guys, are best heard in uniform. Like the great Pink Floyd, singles aren’t really this band’s bag, baby; they release them and they are phenomenal, but listening to the album(s) as a whole is even better. As I looked for good reference points about this album, I came across Wikipedia’s page listing the album as “a new direction taken by Sigur Ros, both musically and thematically. The band has described the album’s sound as ‘more aggressive’ than any of their previous works.” Holy Shit, I just got a holy lot more excited!!! I already feel like I’m on top of the highest mountain in the world screaming at the heavens in ultimate triumph when I listen to songs like (the already oft mentioned) Festival, Glosoli, Staralfur, and Hafsol, just to name a few. I cannot wait to dive into this new “aggressive” album! I only hope I don’t get too much gusto under my skin that would prompt me to quit my job and my life to run out and live on a secluded beach somewhere in the vast Pacific. I promise to at least hold out until after October when I see them LIVE! That's right, my excitement has increased ten-fold since I bought tickets to their live show in Orlando. As good as their albums are, I've read that their live shows are even better and even more moving. So if you stop hearing from me around mid-October, you know what happened. Enjoy the week, folks, and pick up this new album. And if you happen to meet me on a mountain somewhere, be sure to share that triumphant smile.