Space and time: while we’re locked down at home, and locked away from gigs, we’ve not got much of the former but maybe too much of the latter. While we wait for the return of live music, Wind Back Wednesday steps into the breach again with some gig replacement therapy from a band which seemed to suspend both time and space during its shows.
Sigur Ros, captured here in 2005, did things to your head.
Enmore Theatre, August 4
Some Sigur Ros songs sit in the atmosphere as if composed of light and air only. They have this shimmery quality which sparkles and suggests shapes and you feel you could grasp it, maybe, but it never holds its form or its place. They are just simply beautiful moments.
Some Sigur Ros songs drive through the atmosphere as if they're being expelled from giant lungs, tumbling loose items in their way. They begin with a draw of air in; expand to receive the layers of bowed guitar, keyboards, increasingly prominent bass and larger and larger drums; and then release all that energy and sound in wave after wave. They are powerful, thundering moments.
Some Sigur Ros songs do both, opening with a slow tread, like wading through marshes, before the path clears, the air lightens and you find yourself running full tilt in glorious sunshine. They are breathtaking moments.
Is it some Icelandic thing? The exotica of the different? Of course it helps that we don't understand what siren-like singer Jonsi is singing in that glass-ringing high voice. You know that anything as prosaic as "I love you" or "the trees are bare and the sky is blue" would undercut the mood.
But in many ways the elements of Sigur Ros songs are not unknown or previously unseen. The piano and guitar as signposts for open air explorations have been done by the likes of David Bridie and Robert Fripp. Some of the songs structures are essentially standard rock forms made odd by that voice seemingly coming from another dimension. The cascading storm of sound recalls both Radiohead and Cocteau Twins. And occasionally there are pure krautrock circular rhythms.
So no, it's not the oddities which mark out a Sigur Ros show. It's the fact that those elements combined mean there's something intangible and intoxicating created that lifts you so you aren't sitting in a hard chair in an old inner city theatre anymore but standing in some big-sky, crater-marked landscape where everything - colours, textures, smells - is heightened and wondrous.