It’s actually quite astonishing that Sigur Rós — the name translates roughly to Victory Rose but is actually a tribute to guitarist/vocalist Jonsi Birgisson’s sister Sigurros — has coaxed such an ephemeral result from their instruments over the years and found such a fervent and globally significant audience in the process. Perhaps it is even more surprising that Sigur Rós has managed to entrance listeners without catering to the world’s English-speaking spectrum. Some of Sigur Rós’ songs have been sung in Vonlenska, an unintelligible language concocted by the band, and almost none of them have had English titles.
Obviously, Sigur Rós has not relied on an aggressive Ambient tone throughout their nearly two-decade history. Albums such as 2005’s Takk and 2008’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust featured more guitars and less string arrangements and were generally more palatable to Rock audiences, but still managed to retain the sonic majesty that has been Sigur Rós’ signature from the start.
While the band has clearly explored the fringe elements of its sound in spectacular and uncompromising ways, they have also connected with creative minds in other performance mediums on a profound level; Sigur Rós has contributed music to a great many indie and mainstream films (including Vanilla Sky, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and 127 Hours) and television programs (including The Vampire Diaries and even The Simpsons) and written scores for several dance productions, including Merce Cunningham’s Split Sides, a collaboration with Radiohead.
Sigur Rós’ latest album, the acclaimed and more daring Kveikur, is the band’s first album in 15 years without the talents of keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, but stands as a fascinating hybrid of their most ethereal and accessible qualities.
Sigur Rós is that rare musical entity that effectively combines the spiritual with the visceral.
SIGUR ROS plays with Julianna Barwick Monday, Sept. 16 at Riverbend's PNC Pavilion in Anderson Township. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.