Album: Jon Thor Birgisson & Alex Somers, Riceboy Sleeps (Parlophone)

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The Independent Culture

Riceboy Sleeps is the name under which Sigur Ros frontman Jon Thor Birgisson and his partner Alex Somers exhibit their artworks, and now serves as the title of their first album, the contents of which are accurately signalled in the press release's use of terms such as "contemplative dream-state" and "slowly evolving abstract landscapes".

Recorded entirely on acoustic instruments, including contributions from the Icelandic string quartet Amiina, then processed through digital music software, the results are ambient music in the classic Eno mould, with tones and drones drifting pleasingly in and out, avoiding the narrative structure of verse, chorus and hook, in favour of a soothing balm of strings and warm keyboard tones oozing unhurriedly along.

Gentle metamorphosis is the rule, most notably in the way that "Stokkseyri" shifts imperceptibly from rippling piano figure to organ drone to string pad, while Birgisson's characteristic cherubic vocals are gossamer threads of choral shimmers, another tone amid the snorts and snuffles of animals in "Howl" and the creaking sound of boat rigging in "Sleeping Giant". A featherlight enticement.

Download this: 'Happiness', 'Stokkseyri', 'Howl', 'Daniell in the Sea'

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