'heima' film and 'hvarf-heim' album release: 5th november 2007
sigur rós break their two-year silence to release their first-ever film and a companion album later this autumn. filmed over two weeks last summer when the band undertook a free tour of iceland, 'heima' stands as a colossal labour of love - not to say grand folly - typical of this most exacting of bands.
while most people set up a few cameras at, say, a festival, and call it a dvd, sigur rós decided they would push the boat (bus and plane) out for their debut venture into live film, hauling 40-plus people round 15 locations to the furthest flung corners of their homeland to create something, well, inspirational.
on their way they went to ghost towns, outsider art shrines, national parks, small community halls and the absolute middle-of-nowhere-ness of the highland wilderness, as well as playing the largest gig of their career (and in icelandic history) at their triumphant homecoming reykjavik show.
'heima' (icelandic for "at home" or "homeland"), truly, shows sigur rós as never before. whereas seeing the group live is normally a large-scale and sometimes overwhelming experience, making full use of lights and mesmeric visuals, 'heima' was always intended to reveal more of what was actually going on on stage. it does this via long-held close-ups and a rare intimate proximity, without ever once breaking the spell.
loosely based on a documentary format - and including personal reflections from the band - 'heima' also serves as an alternative primer for iceland the country, which is revealed as less stag destination-du-jour and more desolate, magical place where human beings have little right to trespass.
'heima' features performances of songs from all four sigur rós albums, many radically reworked, as well as two exclusive new songs in 'guitardjamm', which was filmed inside an abandoned herring oil tank in the far west of the country, and the traditional 'a ferd til breidarfjardar 1922', performed with poet steindor andersen.
'heima' was directed by dean deblois, a long-time fan of the band and director of the oscar-nominated animated feature 'lilo & stitch', using an icelandic crew.
'hvarf-heim', the companion record, is more cousin than sister release. it has two titles because it is in effect two separate, but complementary, entities, with – get this – two front covers and a limited edition run of two discs. open it one way and it's 'hvarf' ("disappeared" or "haven", a five track electric studio record comprising mainly unreleased rarities from sigur rós's back-pages, none of which is on 'heima'. open it the other way and it's 'heim' ("home"), a six track acoustic record, comprising delicate new unplugged versions of some of sigur rós's best moments, which have never been performed before.
the band were originally asked to deliver a traditional live album to go with the live film, but thinking about it, with sigur rós that wasn't ever going to happen, and what we have here in 'hvarf-heim' is infinitely more stimulating and exciting than some will-this-do? toss-offs of songs they honed to perfection in the studio aeons ago.
'hvarf-heim' features three previously absolutely unreleased electric songs (salka, hljomalind and i gaer) and is, anyway, wall-to-wall re-workings. whatever way you look at it, 'hvarf-heim' is a great sigur ros record.
you can watch the trailer for 'heima' here
you can read what we did last summer on the tour diary here
'heima' receives its worldwide premiere on september 27th at the icelandic film festival and a run of national premieres at film festivals all around the world follows including a uk premiere (full details soon to be announced). the film will then receive a nationwide uk release in selected cinemas across the uk.
on november 5th 'heima' will be released as a special edition double dvd package with a 104-page book containing stunning photos from the tour. it will also be released as a standard 2-dvd set. the first disc of both packages features the 'heima' film, with a choice of a 5.1 surround sound or pcm stereo mix, whilst the second dvd will contain the full performances of each song in the movie amongst many other extras.
this is the first chance to see sigur rós live on dvd.
'hvarf-heim' will be released as a double cd album and a single downloadable album.