Sigur Rós Goes Industrial

Jul 11, 2013
Originally published on July 11, 2013 10:50 am

Each week, NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson brings us new music.

This week, he has us listening to “Brennesteinn,” off the new album Kveikur by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós.


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Well, now, Robin, we want to turn to some new music that no one will have to apologize for, with NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson. And, Stephen, what have you brought us?

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: The Icelandic band Sigur Ros has just put out a new album. It's called "Kveikur," which is not spelled like that. But it's called "Kveikur." The band makes a lot of these foreboding, beautiful soundscapes. Lots of swirling beauty, kind of ambient quality to it.

HOBSON: Right.

THOMPSON: This record is rougher. It's got more of a kick to it. And the song that kicks off the album is called "Brennisteinn." It's nearly eight minutes long, and, listen, it takes you on a journey.


HOBSON: That almost sounds industrial.

THOMPSON: Yeah. There's a punishing quality to it. The song moves through a bunch of different phases. But it kicks off the record as somewhat of a declaration of intent that this is a messy and nervy and unpredictable record. It still moves into these phases where it has moments of beauty but they're set against something that's a lot more abrasive.


HOBSON: Now, the Sigur Ros music that I have heard before is not that dissimilar from this, and I'm no aficionado. So I'm sure that some people can hear the intricacies, but it does sound somewhat similar. How does this differ from what they've done in the past?

THOMPSON: Well, I think that it's still recognizably Sigur Ros, but there's a lot of the delicacy of Sigur Ros' music has been stripped away. Last year, the band put out a record that I really loved called "Valtari," but it sounds a lot like what the band had done in the past. It didn't sound like it was advancing the sound, you know, which is very billowy and cinematic and pretty. I listened to a lot while I'm editing because it's very head-clearing and not super distractive.

HOBSON: Right.

THOMPSON: But this record is really a left turn for a band that's still, after all these records, has the capacity to surprise.

HOBSON: The song is called "Brennesteinn." The album is called - help me out again, Stephen - "Kveikur."



HOBSON: "Kveikur." All right. Well, you can let us...

THOMPSON: Quick, "Kveikur."


HOBSON: You can tell us how you think we should pronounce it, you can let us know what you think of this song and Sigur Ros. You can tweet us @hereandnow. You can also Stephen @idislikestephen. Stephen Thompson, editor from NPR Music, thank you so much.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Jeremy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.