Sigur Rós has released their long anticipated epic Odin's Raven Magic. It was first commissioned for the Reykjavik Arts Festival in 2002 and only performed a few times after. The project was never given a proper release. That changes today with the live recording from Paris’ La Grande Halle de la Villette in 2002 serving as the official release. In addition to the band, the performance features orchestral work from Schola Cantorum of Reykjavik and L’Orchestre des Laureats du Conservatoire national de Paris. The performance was filmed as well, but the band hated how it was filmed, so they scrapped it.
Odin’s Raven Magic is a collaboration with Icelandic musician Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Steindór Andersen, a fisherman and an Icelandic chanter of the traditional epic narrative.
The performance captures the mythological tale of Odin and his two ravens. The poem recounts a great banquet held by gods while signs foretold the end of the world of gods and humans. This musical captures that odd juxtaposition of blissful ignorance, while the world is in the midst of potential collapse.
“It’s a very visual poem, with images all about falling down, and a world freezing from north to south,” says Hilmarsson. “It was an apocalyptical warning. Perhaps the people of the time felt it in their skins.”
The choral arrangements soar above beautiful, full of life strings and marimba. It is at times haunting and melancholic, other times, seemingly joyous and cheerful, but always beautiful.
The poem offers lessons that we should heed today. We destroy the world around us with short sifted selfishness without thinking about future generations and other species. Eventually, time will run out on our species as we take down the world around us.
"Today, of course, Iceland is involved in environmental issues surrounding hydro-electric power and the destruction of the highlands. We are being warned again," cautions Hilmarsson.
Putting out this performance in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, with populism on the rise and unchecked climate change just made sense. Get your copy here and listen now.