For more than 2 decades, Iceland‘s Sigur Rós, have been defying classification with their expansive, experimental, and ethereal soundscapes. However, if categorization is your thing, Post-rock is clearly the easiest place to file them — and any number of other musical outfits that may currently be taking violin bows to their electric guitars — but what continues to bring them legions of fans isn’t because they have a sound that’s easy to define; it’s the the fact that they’re not only willing to venture beyond any predefined parameters, but seem almost compelled to do so. With their ability to generate shimmering typhoons of sonics and the fact that their lyrics are sung in Vonlenska, or “Hopelandic,” — made up language of gibberish that, structurally, sounds enough like Icelandic, that someone like myselfI would have never known the difference — it’s evident that the band’s real strong points lie in the visceral and emotional experiences that they can manifest through their music. At times, they’ve worked with clear intention to eliminate certain restrictions, removing the metaphorical “frame” to allow their art to be experienced while hovering within it’s own dimension. Such is the case with their 2002 album, ( ), which didn’t provide song titles for any of the 8 tracks, and divided the first half of the album from the second by using 6 minutes of straight silence. Even their version of a tour movie, with the band heading back to play shows in their homeland after strenuously touring the world, resulted in the film, Heima (meaning “Home” in actual Icelandic), one of the most beautifully surreal music documentaries that you’re gonna come across, and features the band performing in various locations, including outdoor performances and shows in small fishing villages, all set in that majestic Icelandic backdrop. Last June, they even released a 24-hr, 360-degree video shot from the first-person perspective of touring the Icelandic countryside via automobile.
Sigur Rós, often come across like more of a flowing hypnotic entity, or even a massive auditory spectre, than a handful of dude’s squeaking out some tines by knocking away at any instruments that could be easily procured from a guitar center. The fact that the group will be performing this Friday, April 14th accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic may be new grounds for them as a unit, but the truth is that it’s not overly surprising: we expect this exact nature of magical shit from them. The fact that this event, which will be held at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and consists of “a 50-minute set of Sigur Rós performing with the orchestra, followed by a second 50-minute set of the band performing as an unaccompanied trio” with the orchestral set featuring “unreleased songs as well as new arrangements by several esteemed guests, including Dan Deacon, Owen Pallett, Nico Muhly, Anna Meredith, and more” sold out instantly… well, that’s even less surprising. To accommodate the fact that most of us will not have the luxury of being in attendance, they’ve opted to team with Pitchfork.com to stream the entire performance live. Synchronize those watches and mark your “hang in there” cat calendars; the show is slated to start at 9:00 pm PST/12:00 am EST.
Regarding this production, the band has provided the following statement:
“This is all new ground for us. It’s been 15 years since we last played with an orchestra, and that wasn’t even Sigur Rós songs. The shows at the Disney Hall sold out fast, and only 4,500 people can get to experience it in the room. So we thought it would be good to let anyone who couldn’t get tickets and people around the world have the opportunity to see how all it comes together. There’s just one chance for us to rehearse with the L.A. Phil ahead of time, so in all honesty we have no idea how this is going to go, but we promise it will be exciting.“
Wonderful? Sure. Does it sound like it’s gonna be great? Definitely. Do we wish we could attend in person? Absolutely. Is the fact that they’re streaming it a tremendous move on all parties involved? Oh yes. But, surprising? Again, not really. It may be a welcomed and challenging venture for Sigur Rós, artistically, and a wondrous presentation of their skill, but it’s definitely in their wheelhouse and the sort of thing that we’ve come to expect from them. Now, the type of things that do throw me off are when they do something that seems a little more “regular” or everyday human. For example, when the members appeared as a trio performing at King Joffrey‘s wedding on Game Of Thrones, that actually slightly took me by surprise. And, let that sink in for a minute: they were on a show that literally revolves around such content as fire breathing dragons, magical spells, the walking dead, and demonic smoke creatures, yet it all seemed too basic and grounded for what these guys do — their costumes didn’t even seem very ornate. What I never anticipated, however, was that the details about the new performance/stream would arrive accompanies with the announcement that Sigur Rós would also be putting out their own limited edition weed candies.
The following breakdown comes via the press release:
Sure, they’re still fancy weed candies — “made by hand in small batches imported natural European fruit essences and pure California-grown cannabis extract” by someone that refers to themselves as a “Lord” — but they’re weed candies just the same. Good on ya, boys! No one can really accuse these Icelanders of not consistently and effectively exploring new directions and methods in which to enhance their sound and ways for people to experience it.
Visit LordJones.com for more information and check out the following tour dates, below.