Sigur RÃ³s, Inni
A handsome piece of work
Is this live double album a placeholder or a memorial plaque? With the Icelanders on “indefinite hiatus” according to frontman JÃ³nsi it’s hard to tell, but either way it’s a handsome piece of work: an almost two-hour document, with an accompanying movie, of their shows at London’s Alexandra Palace in November 2008. The Palace is a cavernous venue whose treacherous acoustics have swallowed other bands, but Sigur Ros are nothing if not adept at filling a space. Scale is their forte.
Inni opens fittingly with the sonar ping of Svefn-G-Englar, which was most listeners’ first taste of the band’s engulfing vastness over a decade ago and still feels as much like a weather formation as any piece of music can. A sparse four-man line-up, minus the horns and strings of previous tours, leaves the usually volcanic chorus of “HoppÃpolla” a little muted but more than compensates elsewhere. Sequencing is the key. A string of giddy sunburst pop numbers from their last two studio albums gives way to heavyweight slow-burners like “HafsÃ³l” and “Popplagiï¿½°,” each one ascending with a shudder towards effects-pedal Valhalla, and finally coasts to a close with the rippling calm of solitary new song “Luppulagio.”
As live albums go it’s pretty persuasive, though with one caveat: the same kind of applause which gives most concert albums their atmosphere almost shatters the spell here. Compared to all the extraordinary images that Sigur Ros’s music evokes, the thought of a few thousand people in a giant hall in north London feels strangely deflating.