Okay, confession time.
I don’t actually understand anything these guys are saying.
Oh, that’s because they’re an Icelandic band. Oh, and also, they’re not even really singing Icelandic words. Oh, they’re not really even singing words at all. It’s mostly “Hopelandic,” a made-up language based in Icelandic phonetics and nonsense.
Okay, that’s good. I feel like less of an idiot.
If you feel “slow” listening to the latest atmospheric output from the Jónsi Birgisson-led quartet, not to fear – it’s most likely because the music trudges along slower than your brain can function while it’s awake. “Valtari” is, in fact, a real Icelandic word and it does, in fact, mean “steamroller” (I’m not kidding, look it up); so with a little research, one could gather that the music is supposed to be slow and heavy. Because there’s not always a giant bear on the album cover to set your expectations.
One could also, I suppose, retort that of course the music is supposed to be slow and heavy – Sigur Rós has made a career out of slow and heavy – but it’s important to establish these expectations early, especially if you’re a relative newcomer to the Sigur Rós train (guilty myself).
So, now you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need to begin enjoying the ambient majesty that is Sigur Rós. And I really don’t have much else to say. Valtari is emotive and artistic; it’s not meant to be set to words, but to images, feelings, landscapes. That being said, I’ll just say a couple things about what the album does for me and leave you with the first two videos in an ongoing series called “The Valtari Mystery Film Experiment,” in which a dozen filmmakers will be creating their own artistic interpretations of the music. So here we go. Here’s my review:
Valtari is perfect music for a nap.
Here are the videos: