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coverpic flag Iceland - Full Moon 206 - 06/23/13

Sigur Rós
Kveikur
4AD / Playground

can-dle-wick (kn'dl-wk')
n.
1. The wick of a candle.
2.
a. A soft heavy cotton thread similar to that used to make wicks for candles.
b. Embroidery made of tufts of this thread.
(TheFreeDictionary)

Kveikur (Candlewick) is Sigur Rós' seventh studio album, and it's in fact the first record I've dived into, or sub-merged with (as in Wes Anderson's brilliantly weird, wild and wonderful movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, where "Starálfur" kicks in at the perfect moment) since their amazing 1999/2000 second album Ágætis byrjun. Kveikur shows a bans still being vital, showing creative strength.

Kveikur is their first record seeing Sigur Rós as a trio, due to Kjartan Sveinsson (keyboard) parted with the band in 2012. They've had major success after their break-through, as a live act, and putting out a steady trio of albums between Ágætis byrjun and this new one, namely (2002), Takk... (Thanks...) (2005), Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly) (2008), and Valtari (Roller) (2012). Jón "Jónsi" þór Birgisson (vocals, guitar), Georg "Goggi" Hólm (bass), and Orri Páll Dýrason (drums) are still on their quest for the perfect symbiosis of progressive careful dream-pop-noise and more ambient soundscapes. Ambitious, aiming upwards.

In prior to the release of Kveikur they launched a single, "Ísjaki" (Iceberg), a catchy, danceable track. Opening track "Brennisteinn" (Brimstone) is sort of an epic song (it's the albums longest track); a majestic composition with a dancebeat along with mysticism, noise and ambience. The following track, "Hrafntinna" (Obsidian) roam deep into elf-landscapes, and it's Sigur Rós at their most ethereal. The songs continue to strike repeatedly and forcefully, such as "Yfirborð" (Surface), "Stormur" (Storm), and "Rafstraumur" (Electric Current); being indeed catchy, mind-blowing (or maybe rather mind-expanding), and soaring. The title track is another massive composition, showing a more 'aggressive' side of the band. Well, the 'aggression' is of course counterbalanced angel like falsetto voice of Jónsi. The closing "Var" (Was) is a quiet piece, a perfect breather after being whirled around by the Icelandic masters of adventurous musical maelstroms and undercurrents.

Kveikur proves (again) Sigur Rós as a highly spiritual and heavenly combo. It's probably a lot to do what comes out of Jónsi's creative mind. And, of course, the spirit of the small isle of Iceland. The power of geysirs.

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