Sigur Ros – Inni (video review)

Sigur Ros create an astounding masterpiece of music and film on live concert film Inni.

This is my first attempt at a video review, so you get to see me waffling on about Sigur Ros‘ new concert film rather than reading it. I have also included my written review below as well if you’d rather read it.

This review focusses just on the film portion of Inni rather than the live double album, which is also very good too.

Following my first watch of Inni, the film of Sigur Ros’ 2008 concert at Alexandra Palace in London, I tweeted the following: “Inni by @sigurros is the most astounding concert film I’ve ever seen, I don’t want to go back into the real world now…” and I still can’t think of a better way of expressing my feelings about it.

That said I will try to go into it in a bit more detail otherwise this will be a very short post.

I’ve had an interest and appreciation for the music of Sigur Ros for several years now and have liked everything I’ve heard by them. Their 2007 film Heima is up among the best things I have watched in many years and I recognize their music as something exceptional.

However, it wasn’t until this film that something shifted in my perception of them and I realized something extra that had been missing from my previous interpretations of their work.

From the off this film resounds with the power of a band navigating a wave of sound to create exquisite music. The band’s ‘frontman’ Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson is a perfect microcosm of this – his bowed guitar playing and falsetto vocal delivery being at once brittle and sounding on the edge of giving way to the power behind them and at once strong enough to harness that power and do something amazing with it.

Inni also demonstrates how the band seem to operate as a single entity, as all good bands should, but Sigur Ros seem to do it in a way unique from other bands I’ve seen.

While Jonsi may stand front and centre and deliver the lion’s share of the vocals all four members of the band seem to be on an absolute level in creating the music as they ride the waves of feedback or pull things down to a minimalist level as one.

The film also shows how the band’s music varies shifting from sounds that seem to come from, and certainly in me speak to a dark internal place, one moment to triumphant celebratory sounds that would sound best filling the sky the next.

All these factors combine to make the band’s sound something at once familiar and alien – this is something that the visuals in the film back up as well.

The concert footage for the nine tracks comes like something from a past time, scratchy, black and white images flickering as if projected on an old home movie camera but at the same time with the sharpness of modern technology giving the film a vaguely steampunk aesthetic, but steampunk through Sigur Ros’ own special filter.

The way the concert footage is shot also rarely gives us a clear view of any individual member backing up the idea that all four are as one and their individual identity is not important when they are combined in creative endeavour and collectively giving Sigur Ros a vaguely mythic feel as if they are something unattainable to the viewer.

This image is then juxtaposed with shots of the band off stage, either from old home movies of them playing small venues where they are setting up their own equipment or fooling around on bikes backstage at a festival, to shots of them looking decidedly uncomfortable during radio and TV interviews.

The combination of these two sorts of footage makes the band appear more human and less at the same time, continuing the conflict in essence that their music imparts.

The fusion of the music and film in Inni is about as perfect as any concert movie I’ve ever seen as the images serve the sound to create a whole and total view of the band.

As I said at the start after watching this I don’t want to go back to the real world, maybe unless it’s a real world where everyone thinks like this band seem to in the creation of their music, where they act as four individuals making one fantastic sound.

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