On October 15 with the only concert in the Baltic States the most successful Icelandic band Sigur Rós will perform at Arena Riga. Tickets here.
The band is embarking on their first world tour in nearly five years, which will start in both Americas in April, but will continue in Europe in the autumn. As an album is currently being recorded in the studio, there is no doubt that the concert will feature both brand new material, as well as selection from their 25-year back catalogue.
Sigur Rós was formed in 1994 by guitarist and lead vocalist Jón “Jónsi” Pór Birgisson, bassist Georg Hólm and drummer Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson. Keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson joined in 1998 and is the only participant with proper musical education. In 2013 Kjartan and the band parted ways, but this February it has been announced that he has returned, which is undoubtedly good news for the group's longtime fans.
The band's discography began in 1997 with the album "Von", but wider success, including international one, Sigur Rós gained with the second studio album "Ágætis byrjun" (1999). So far, 7 studio albums have been released and the band confirms that it currently finalises the eighth.
Critics usually places the band's music style in the post-rock category, but over the years also ambient, dream-rock and dream-pop joined to the list, comparing with such ones as Mogwai, Tangerine Dream and Bark Psychosis. The sound is described as classical and minimalist, but melodic.
Sigur Rós are best recognised by Jónsi's falsetto and guitar playing style, in which he uses a cello bow, as well as Kjartan's rich string and orchestral parts. The songs are sung mostly in Icelandic, but some of them are written in Jonsi's own invented Hopelandic language (Vonlenska), which are basically vocalizations.
Music reviewers have often competed to find exciting epithets to describe Sigur Rós' music and to highlight the high vocals of soloist and guitarist Jónsi. The artists themselves laugh at these over-syrupy ones: angelic “.. a falsetto coasts like a hang-glider riding the breeze to the edge of the sea” or “.. like God weeping tears of gold in heaven”.
At the same time, they claim that to leave their native land for any length of time would be akin to ‘cutting the umbilical chord’, confirming that the magnificent music they craft is directly inspired by the stunning topography of their immediate environment.
‘It is a wonderful place’, they have stated of their homeland. ‘We have all these big empty places where no-one lives, with glaciers and lava. The sky is so big in this country.’
Another proof that Iceland's unique nature is able to give such strong emotions not only to tourists, but also continues to thrill and inspire the indigenous people themselves. For almost 30 years now.
Although much has been written about the musical phenomenon of the small Icelandic nation - the chrestomatic Bjork, GusGus, FM Belfast, Of Monsters and Men, Emilíana Torrini and a number of lesser-known names - Sigur Rós' world recognition was determined by the coincidence of certain circumstances. Two of them were an opportunity to warm up Radiohead several times and later collaborate with the band, and the wides use of Sigur Rós' music in various genres of cinema: from Vanilla Sky to SCI detectives and BBC historical documentaries.
Of course, this does not diminish the talent and creativity of the group members themselves. That is why Sigur Rós is not only the most commercially successful Icelandic music band, but one of the most important contemporary music formations in the world.