By James Blake
Sing along with Sigur Ros is a game enjoyed by friends and I. You play the track of your choice and try to keep up with frontman Jonsi’s angelic, soaring vocals. Admittedly, the game is often short lived. Primarily because Icelandic isn’t any of our first languages, but also the fun almost instantly fades into silent appreciation for the etherial quality the band possesses.
With Inni, our game becomes impossible. In a move away from the jaw dropping expanses of Icelandic scenery of 2007’s Heima, this live double album and film captures the raw essence of the band during a show at Alexandra Palace in 2008. The performance consists of the four original members without the usual accompaniment of strings and brass, revealing their emphatic energy in an analogue black and white.
Where Heima aimed to contextualise the origins and growth of Sigur Ros, Inni (literally translated as inside) captivates the audience and personifies the intimacy of a band who have perfected their live show. Right from the delicate openings of ‘Ny Batteri’ to the euphoric, first-glimpse-of-new-music-for-three-years climax of ‘Luppulagid’, abstract angles and graphics deployed by director Vincent Moriset transport the viewer to an other worldly setting where Sigur Ros run free amidst their own brand of articulately sculpted aural mayhem.
Woven throughout breathtaking live footage lie hidden gems of background material unveiling the origins of the name (don’t worry non-super fans, I wont spoil it) plus backstage antics to wonderfully characterise those behind music. Alongside this, interviews reveal a band who are still generally misunderstood by the media. The awkward silences of drummer Orri Páll Dyrason and Kjartan Sveinsson that follow questions on how they describe their sound and whether they started out writing ‘normal’ music are clearly not a language barrier. Instead they show a band who have no intention of being suffocated into a mould, whose music will be appreciated for what it is rather than where it fits in your record collection.
If Sigur Ros’ back catalogue already holds a special place in your heart you’ll need no introduction to this selection of greatest hits on show as Inni spans across their discography. What you will be in awe of however is just how effortlessly Jonsi and co. bring these works into hauntingly well crafted life. Visually and sonically, Inni captures this spectacle perfectly, portraying the majesty of the music but simultaneously identifying the playful innocence of those who produce it. This release may not be ideal for the next Icelandic karaoke hero but for anyone seeking a mouth-watering taste of one of the most understated live bands going, Inni is by far your best option.