Sigur Rós' latest venture has been on the cards for longer than most care to think about. After first composing the ideas with Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Icelandic music legend Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, and Steindór Andersen as far back as 2002, 'Odin's Raven Magic' went through numerous guises over the last two decades as the band tried to figure out how best to release it. But rather than go through all the fanfare of crafting an elegant and show-stopping presentation, they opted to release it simply and calmly instead. And now here we are as they share their first orchestral album.
Looking to tap far more into their traditional Icelandic roots than we have heard before, 'Odin's Raven Magic' is a far cry from their normal intentions. Stripping out nearly all elements of percussion throughout, the focus of this new record makes for a wonderfully ethereal and, at most times, haunting example of their direction. Keeping focus on the more atmospheric elements, their latest work is probably the least Sigur Rós Sigur Rós album you are likely to come across as they pursue an avenue of textured ambience and rustic charm that sometimes doesn't intrigue as much as you'd like.
It is certainly a fascinating listen, but 'Odin's Raven Magic' just seems to lack that bold and vibrant invention we all know them for. As a traditional Icelandic-folk record, it hits nearly every mark, but has trouble finding new and exciting places to take itself, resulting in something that we can't see ourselves coming back to again and again.