Riceboy Sleeps – Review by Evening Standard


Jon Por Birgisson is the leader of ethereal Icelanders Sigur Rós, while his off-stage partner Alex Somers is responsible for some of the band’s artwork. The vegan couple recently collaborated on a lavish picture book as Riceboy Sleeps and now, with a Sigur Rós album not due until 2010, the pair have decided to call themselves by their Christian names — and they have recorded an album whose title alludes to their previous professional collaboration. There’ll be a test later.

The music, however, is too lovely to confuse anyone. Five years in the making and possibly the first album to be recorded in Iceland and mixed in Hawaii, it’s a more extreme version of Sigur Rós. The duo and assorted collaborators used only acoustic instruments, then layered to lushness. The result is almost entirely instrumental, and full of bumps and squeaks you can’t quite identify: Howl seems to fade out with a selection of farmyard animals while Sleeping Giant has more creaking doors than a Hammer film. Yet for all its intimacy it sounds huge, from the cathedral-sized organ on Howl and All The Big Trees to the Morricone-esque choir that takes Atlas Song and Boy 1904 to vertigo-inducing heights of grandeur.

The nine lengthy tracks tumble into each other but that’s no loss since the whole package is as beautiful as it is moving. Easy to listen to rather than easy listening, more for dinner-table discussion than for dinner-party background, it’s up there with the best of Sigur Rós.

John Aizlewood

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