Sigur Ros @ The Paramount (8/8/12)
There’s a long list of adjectives that easily define Sigur Ros’ music: Ethereal. Orchestral. Majestic. Eerie. Otherwordly. Mesmerizing. Orgasmic. And they can all be used to describe last night’s show at The Paramount.
On a stage with eleven musicians (the core band members, plus three string players and three musicians on horns and a few woodwinds), the Icelandic band made creative use of unusual techniques: bowed guitar, bass played by tapping a drum stick against the strings, a bow dragged across the edge of a cymbal. Singer Jonsi’s keening falsetto is a unique instrument itself, adding to the soundscape with his combination of wordless tones and made-up “Hopelandic” language. During Svefn-g-englar, he raised the guitar and sang directly into it, to great echoing effect.
Their music ranges from whisper-soft and sparse, to a wall of full, enormous sound, both often occurring within the same song. While the stunning crescendos (accompanied by some gentle head-banging in the crowd) were heart-stopping moments, they also know how to play with silence.
Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa featured a dramatic pause so wide the Boeing Dreamliner could have flown right through it. Disrupted only by one tentative “whoo” (followed by immediate shushing), a similar silence in a later song held nothing but silence for a breathtaking moment.
When the final song, Popplagio, reached its massive conclusion, it was almost overwhelming and I couldn’t choose between wanting to close my eyes and let the sound wash over me or to keep my eyes open so as not to miss a moment. I wish I were at the Portland show tonight so I could have that feeling again.
Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa