Sigur Rós, the renowned sonic explorers from Iceland, return with their latest release after a decade-long hiatus, ÁTTA. With their eighth studio album, Sigur Rós venture into a more ambient territory while maintaining their distinctive post-rock sound. As one would expect from a Sigur Rós release, there are plenty of stunning moments on offer but, when taken as a whole, ÁTTA seems to suffer from being a little too ambient for its own good.
One of the salient aspects of ÁTTA is the band’s incorporation of chamber arrangements and orchestral textures. Sigur Rós has always been known for their ethereal and atmospheric soundscapes, but here they embrace a more grandiose and expansive approach with the addition of strings and electronics too. The orchestral elements are a welcome addition and they add a certain warmth and depth to their music, providing a heightened sense of drama and emotional resonance. Of course since 2013’s Kveikur, which had a strong industrial vibe to it, a lot has happened, and ÁTTA is clearly a product of the constant despairing we seem to now live in. However, amidst this orchestral and ambient direction, the album suffers from a lack of focus.
The songs meander through vast ethereal soundscapes and the lack of any drum parts or any really narrative to follow doesn’t help either. While this ambiguity might be deliberate and reflective of the album’s message, it often leaves the listener yearning for more defined melodies or structures to hold onto. As a result, ÁTTA can feel somewhat formless and sprawling, making it challenging to fully engage with the music on a deeper level. That said, there are still moments of genuine beauty scattered throughout the album. Tracks like “Klettur” and “8” serve as reminders of the band’s creative brilliance and mastery in crafting highly cinematic and emotionally charged music.