#1188 Sigur Ros – Hvarf/Heim

A double disc set from the Icelandic post-rock group, released in 2007 along with the documentary film Heima. The first disc Hvarf, is a five-track collection of rarities from their vaults, dating from 1995 to 2002. The second, Heim, has six live acoustic performances from some of their best known tracks from roughly the same period. Although, you have to listen hard to notice the absence of their usual droning guitar, so faithfully have they been reproduced with acoustic instruments.

Sometimes I find Jonsi’s falsetto voice a little too whiny and irritating and this is certainly the case (for me) on the first track Salka. Fortunately this is an aberration on this collection, and the 2nd, the previously unreleased Hljómalind, is one of their best: muscular and ethereal, dramatic, anthemic and tender.

Í Gær kicks off strongly, meaning business with their typical oscillating guitars and dynamics. It would be a fantastic immersive existential howl to hear it played live. It’s followed by Von, one of their earliest compositions from their debut album. It means hope, and it sounds like hope, in a way that few bands are able to achieve. I love the ‘pied piper’ ending of Hafsol, which from what I remember of seeing the Heima documentary is played out beautifully with a growing chorus of local villagers and the school orchestra joining in.

This documentary of their 2006 tour in Iceland sees the band playing in small local venues, community centres and village halls as well as a couple of large outdoor concerts. It is as much a portrait of a band of musicians as a stunning film of the beauties of that country. Having been lucky enough to visit Iceland myself a couple of years ago, the trip was augmented by having their music in my ears whilst exploring the magical snowy landscape.

Heim features such modern classics as Starálfur from their breakthrough 2000 album Ágætis byrjun which works wonderfully well on the piano. Samskeyti from ( ) also has such a lovely spiralling piano line that you don’t notice the absence of amplification. Several of these songs are enhanced by the string quartet Amiina that provide some additional texture and warmth to the sound.

Best Bits: Hljómalind
Genre: Post-Rock Volcanic Wizardry
Like This, Try This: Watch a trailer for Heima and fall in love with the music and the country

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