Arts & Entertainment Editor
Continuing their splattering of show announcements for 2017, the Santa Barbara Bowl revealed on Monday that seminal post-rock group Sigur Rós will be performing at the city’s largest concert venue on Apr. 7.
This will the band’s first show in Santa Barbara since 2013, when they were touring in support of their seventh full-length album “Kveikur,” released in June of that year. This time around, Sigur Rós is touring in anticipation of an as-of-yet unnamed album expected to be released next year.
Significantly, “Kveikur” was the band’s first full-length effort since their 1997 debut, “Von,” without keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Kjarten Sveinsson. The change in Sigur Rós’ sound was immediate, especially compared to the ambient and wistful “Valtari,” released the year before.
Where “Valtari” is open and shimmering, “Kveikur” is foreboding and clamorous, closer to experimental and industrial music than post-rock. It’s also distinctly more badass than a lot of Sigur Rós’ previous work. At times, “Kveikur” feels like the experimental-leaning spiritual successor of “Von,” though more bombastic and with fewer crunchy, Alice and Chains-esque guitar passages.
Though Sveinsson is no longer a helping hand, his past musical direction has been an indelible calming agent responsible for many of Sigur Rós’ melodic nuances, especially through his orchestral arrangements for the band. His inseparable influence is apparent in all their post-“Valtari” recordings.
Sigur Rós formed in a city just outside Reykjavík, the capital of their native Iceland, in 1994. The city is the source of most the island nation’s musical production, and Sigur Ròs’ immense international success helped attract a great deal of attention to its vibrant and saturated music scene. According to a 2001 Los Angeles Times interview, “No city since Seattle in the early ’90s has been so besieged by rock journalists and record label scouts.”
Even though Reykjavík’s musicians aren’t united by any specific genre, there is a cohesive sonic unity expressed through spacious atmospheric strings, soft ringing chimes, oscillations between loud grandiosity, luminous melancholy, and a shared language spoken almost exclusively by the Icelandic people.
The city has bred acts as varied as experimental pop star and household name Björk, soaring post-rock instrumentalists For A Minor Reflection, and indie-folk darlings Of Monsters and Men. Sigur Rós’ music, like Björk’s, transcends concrete genre labels into a musical realm of its own making.
Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 AM Pacific Standard Time.