Riceboy Sleeps by Jonsi and Alex

27 Feb

YES, goodnight listening schema

By no means is Jonsi and Alex a necessary project for Sigur Ros leadman and his boyfriend, but that’s half of what takes Riceboy Sleeps directly from music to emotion. The other half is genius. The idea that Jonsi and Alex didn’t care about what people thought when they recorded this melodic drone record puts Jonsi somewhere great artists all yearn to be. A stage in which personal emotion can be translated globally. Nothing about this album tries to do anything or go anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination or a reason. It meanders, latches hold of a moment and explains it forgoing the traditional song structures, brands, and preconceptions bands subconsciously uphold. Riceboy Sleeps is nothing short of emotion translated and spilling out from the heart on the sleeve all over the front of your shirt.

I’ve blogged before about Christmas Day and the inescapable unhappiness that washes over me. It is at these times I hug my music and nothing closer than this album which, the Christmas before the blog I spent listening to Jonsi and Alex instead of sleeping. It is as if all of the materialism swimming around in the back of your head during gift-exchange, all of the possible disappointments are gone and in it’s place isn’t perfection, but an embraceable moment that will explore with you, not tell you what it is. And so it is fitting that Happiness the nine minute opening track comes with no explanation for why it isn’t happy. The track is never about Jonsi and Alex telling you what Happiness is, rather it is Jonsi and Alex asking you what happiness is, yearning with its strings, letting you lead until a parade of instruments changes slowly enough into happiness that you barely realize you’ve found something before Atlas Song’s childhood clinking and boy-choir sounds fill the space. This Satori-like roving is what makes Riceboy so special.

The highlights of the album are tough to pin down, and with an hour and seven minutes divided into just nine tracks, no track is without imperfections but neither is there a track without transcendent points that hit emotions on the head in a way lyrics sometimes can’t. Boy 1904 is a predecessor to Julianna Barwick who herself just scored a best new music while channeling Gregorian music albeit with none of the kitschy qualities, mostly removed by couching it between more modern sounds. The theme of innocence is prevalent both in the oft-employed choir and the distance from the politics of it’s musical references. No where do Jonsi and Alex impose their emotions or ideas about emotions onto their tracks, instead they propose childhood. It culminates with Danell and the Sea, employing repetition more lightly than the dark I Know You Are But What Am I? of Mogwai, and concludes with the imaginative Howl complete with noises similar to oaks creaking in the wind before falling away with a gentle Sleeping Giant. None of the songs will leave you depressed without a predisposition for sadness, and the ability to intensify any emotion makes Riceboy Sleeps an all-purpose album.

Pitchfork complained of Riceboy Sleeps occupying a liminal space between active listening and soundscape but that’s the accidental inventiveness that put this album in a place other albums don’t and can’t go. Sometimes the noises disturb it’s created state, but mostly they situate the listening conscious in a novel state impossible without Jonsi and Alex’s contribution to music.

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2 Responses to “Riceboy Sleeps by Jonsi and Alex”

  1. dwhitake March 5, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    I’ve listened to this album, as per recommendation. I’m pondering a reply review, and also the etiquette for such a thing. As a comment or as a separate post?

  2. octobear March 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    I think as a separate post via RE: Riceboy Sleeps by Jonsi and Alex

    of course it is within etiquette

    this is simply my take and a desire to show what i see as ‘good art’ in the album

    i’d like to hear what other people have to say, this being a little less popular of a release

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