Boomkat Product Review:
Jonsi Thor Birgisson of Sigur Ros & his partner Alex Somers' side project serving as an extension of sorts to the artwork the two have previously collaborated on, which saw them staging exhibitions around the globe also under the moniker Riceboy Sleeps.
You may recall the earliest fruits of the duo's labours for having been showcased on the 4AD Dark Was The Night compilation, and the track that made it onto that playlist ('Happiness') surfaces here too in a slightly different, longer version at the beginning of the album. The composition quickly swells up into a Pop Ambient-like construction, full of arcing string passages (supplied by regular Sigur Ros contributors, Amiina) and dense field recorded textures. Even during this first track, it becomes apparent that this is a record that invites all the well-worn journalistic cliches that always get thrown around when the issue of Sigur Ros is raised: it's remorselessly epic, emotive in the most fragile and genteel of ways, and (brace yourselves) 'otherworldly' in its delivery, but it also scoops out some of the histrionics we've come to expect from the Icelanders. For instance, you won't find any of the prolonged build-ups to those ever-increasing crescendos - in fact, there's no detectable post-rock hokum of any sort really, just a beautiful, carefully woven tapestry of heartbreaking sonic verdancy; it sounds like Sigur Ros evaporated.
The album unfolds in a fashion that avoids repetition or sinking into a homogenised ambient mush, hitting peaks like 'Indian Summer', whose filtered, vintage piano tinkerings are capped off with a typically, er, 'otherworldly' wordless Jonsi vocal. Oddly, the Sigur Ros frontman can only lay claim to the second most cherubic vocal presence on the album, as 'All The Big Trees' harbours a truly celestial turn from the Kopavogsdaetur choir, all bathed in church-like echo and lapping waves of crackle. While the idea of conventional song structure is largely thrown out the window on Riceboy Sleeps, there's enough depth and overall consonance here to win over the most ardent of soundscape-sceptics, but equally, fans of drone-smiths like Tim Hecker, Stars Of The Lid and Mountains are likely to find plenty to admire here too.