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Sigur Ros and the sound of silence

The Icelandic band performs at the Saenger Theatre May 21



More happens in the first 30 seconds of Kveikur (XL), the seventh LP by slow-melt Icelandic trio Sigur Ros, than in some 30-minute stretches of the band's other albums. (This is hyperbole, but not by much — while not quite John Cage in their embrace of negative space, these are the same guys that made 18 seconds of silence into a Rauschenberg-like white-canvas calling card.) Five crashing notes serve as notice that the E.T. finger-touching of 2012's Valtari has given way to a more hostile kind of sensory takeover. It's a stimulating departure, if not as captivating a trick as what Jonsi Birgisson and company started out doing, transfixing listeners in a gobbledygook language with a pair of parentheses and the nothing in between, making outermost Scandinavia sound like the farthest reaches of outer space. As with fellow true post-rockers Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros' bowed strings and stratospheric soundstages are malleable enough to convey any emotion one wishes to attach to them, making the band a first-call soundtrack option for everything from modern dance to nature documentaries to The Simpsons. Kveikur and the new Radiohead-esque "Oveour" have more limited applications — a recent cameo on HBO's Game of Thrones hits the bull's-eye — but it compensates with blunt force. Tickets $49.50-$128.

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