Jónsi & Alex

Riceboy Sleeps

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Jónsi (Jon Thor Birgisson) and Alex (Alex Somers) worked on the album that became Riceboy Sleeps on and off for almost five years. After taking a month to finish and mix it, the result is an album that sounds remarkably like the band Jónsi fronts, Sigur Rós. A lot of times side projects serve as outlets for music that the band would never attempt; Riceboy Sleeps sounds like it's made of stray Sigur Rós moments the group spent tuning orchestras, warming up vocal choirs, or checking levels. Fortunately, even stray moments by Sigur Rós prove to be lovely and transcendent. The songs on the album drift on shifting waves of strings (provided by longtime SR collaborators Amiina), children's choirs, treated pianos, and underwater soundscapes. The music Jónsi & Alex create is ambient but not boring, quiet but not sleepy (despite the name); the combination of sounds and the way the duo manipulates them manage to hold interest even though the songs are lengthy and have a very consistent tone. It's really less of a tone and more of a spell -- the introspective, meditative songs take hold quickly and leave you feeling the album long after it stops spinning. That the pair managed to make such a captivating record while using Jónsi's remarkable vocals only once (they make a stunning cameo at the conclusion of "Indian Summer") is a testament to their skill and vision. Riceboy Sleeps has all the majestic calm of Sigur Rós with none of the dramatic storm, all of the lull and none of the squall.

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