Jónsi and Alex Somers @ Theatre Maisonneuve – 23rd October 2019

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10 years ago Jónsi (of Sigur Ros fame) and Alex Somers released an album born out of ingenuity, friendship, curiosity and love. Riceboy Sleeps is an ambient album where the couple/duo experimented with diverse soundscapes, low budget audio tricks, beautiful vocals accompanied by strings. 

On October 23rd as part of their celebratory tour, the duo alongside an orchestra and a choir performed at Theatre Maisonneuve to give us the gift of beauty, weirdness and music to drift off to.

The venue was replete with people overjoyed to have the chance to witness this live rendition of a great ambient music album. The first half of the show was dedicated to a unique piece titled All Animals, a 33-minute piece that originally accompanied the first pressing of the Riceboy album as a bonus CD. For this part, we, the public, got to participate in a unique way. We were instructed to find packets of Pop Rock candy next to our seats and to wait to eat them when the conductor instructed us to. 

When the time came to place the candies in our mouth, it was entertaining to hear and feel this as one very immersive way to explore sounds, feelings and flavours. This amusing trick would later prove to be amazing to capture the childlike way in which the musician couple goes about their music, using whatever they wanted to make fun and intimate music.

After a well-timed intermission of half an hour, the anniversary rendition of the acclaimed album began and had Jónsi and Alex place themselves on stage almost hidden away as to draw attention away from them but instead get us to focus on the music that was to be played. 

 Apart from the “normal” instruments, the band also brought forth bubble wraps, whirly tubes, crumbling cellophane paper, glass bottles and a bag of rocks were all part of the live recreation of the soundscapes that are so integral to the Riceboy Sleeps sound. 

The concert had, at least in me, the effect of deep unwinding, making me truly appreciate all the details and be surprised by all the small details that were sprinkled all over, being woven through all the hypnotic notes the orchestra played, the enchanting voices of Jón Þór Birgisson and the choir, along with the long album arrangement that never bored.

Take a look at the live rendition of Riceboy Sleeps in this live video recently recorded in Sydney

Review – Ricardo D Flores

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