valtari & kveikur: a look back

2 years x 2 albums + (4 – 1) members ÷ 850 videos + 141 shows = 1 busy band


as 2 years of touring across two album draws to a close, we thought it was as good a time as any to look back at some of the things that have happened in this busiest period of sigur ros’s life. maybe it was foolhardy in retrospect, but never before have sigur ros broken the 3-year album cycle, to release one album (valtari) in the summer of 2012, and another (kveikur) in the summer of 2013. we thank you for your indulgence and trust you’ve been enjoying both records for equal but different reasons. of course, there were extentuating circumstances. valtari turned out to be the last album the band would make with departing keyboard player kjartan sveinsson. an elegaic collection befitting a farewell to a friend, it nevertheless gave the impetus to create a polar-opposite follow up, one that swapped oblique reflection for direct power (a reductive, but essentially accurate précis). while valtari chose to let other people speak for it, with the participatory mystery film experiment, kveikur emerged to the solitary fire-and-brimstone clang of andrew huang’s ‘brennisteinn‘ video. the mystery film experiment yielded millions of youtube hits across its 16 official videos and 834 public submissions, including a dazzling one from christian larson that quite rightly won an mva and another from alma har’el that won a webby and gave the world a glimpse of some famous actor’s genitalia. touring too saw many fresh challenges, with an expanded 11-piece line-up, including 8 incoming players, and a completely new show to realise. starting in july 2012, the band traversed two summers of festivals around the planet, segueing from a set based around valtari to a completely different kveikur-based performance, getting a nomination as ‘best headline performance’ at the festival awards into the bargain. on the way – and on the hoof – they jettisoned one stage show that was deemed to be not cutting the mustard, for another that categorically did. quite rightly some of those responsible were honoured with awards. throughout the course of 18 months on the road, sigur ros also played the biggest shows of their career, including madison square gardens in new york city, budokan in tokyo, wembley arena in london and lots of other truly awesome events, such as this one at the eden project in cornwall. while on the way through the states the band appeared on both late night with jimmy fallon and the tonight show with jay leno and got drawn (in the truest sense of the word) into an episode of the simpsons – becoming the first band to score the show and cover its famous theme tune, as well as later cutting a crucial personal appearance in an episode of game of thrones, to be aired in spring 2014. meanwhile, in the uk they performed a rare live radio set as part of the flagship 6music live at maida vale sessions, and were also the second act on this year’s prestigious itunes festival, which was live streamed around the world. now, as the sun sets for the year in reykjavik (well, almost), and the band unveil a gorgeous 9 x vinyl (+ instrumentals), autographed, screenprinted boxset edition of kveikur – of which there might be handful left as you read this – we thought we’d do the seasonal thing and offer 20% off everything on the sigur ros store*. also anyone buying anything between now and the band’s birthday (january 4th) will automatically be entered into a draw to win some signed goodies, including a signed copy of kveikur boxset. (* exc. music)

one more thing. as some of you maybe know after a show sigur ros and the musicians like nothing more than to relax with some skull-crushing dubstep or minimal baltimore club music. this is invariably provided by trombone player sigrún jonsdottir and guitarist kjartan holm, and in an extension of that euphoric vibe, the band asked both kjartan and sigrun to pick apart and remix latest single rafstraumur, to add to the fine cyril hahn re-reading. you can witness the results of their keyhole surgery here. so, we guess that’s it. and it only remains for us to salute everyone who’s made all this happen. most especially, of course, you, dear reader. finally, here’s some nice things people have said:

Valtari: “The sound of what it feels like to be human”

– The Sunday Times

Kveikur: “Kveikur is entirely unexpected and totally unmissable”

– The Sunday Times

Live show: “The show you gave me last night was by far the most amazing moment of my life”

– Morgan Isaksson, concert go-er Malmö