Inni (Blu-ray + 2 CD)
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Inní is the definitive Sigur Rós live experience, comprised of a double live album and a seventy-five minute concert film, capturing the enigmatic band’s last show before their well-documented “indefinite hiatus” at the end of 2008.Recorded and shot over two nights at London’s Alexandra Palace, at the close of their Með suð íeyrum við spilum endalaust world tour.
The live album Inní – a first for the band – is comprised of the full set from Alexandra Palace, played in order with just one omission, and clocks in at one-and-three-quarter hours. Recorded by Sigur Rós’ in-house studio engineer Birgir Jón Birgisson, Inní’s live audio recording is far and away the best way of replicating the full-force effect of standing in front of one of the world’s most extraordinary bands for an evening.
Inní, Sigur Rós’ second live film following 2007’s hugely-celebrated and Gold Certified tour documentary DVD Heima, was directed by Vincent Morisset (Arcade Fire’s Miroir Noir) and captures the band as a core four-piece for the first time since they were joined by string section amiina at the start of this century.
The film debuted at this year’s Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2011. Inní focuses purely on the band’s performance, and stands as a stark counterpoint to Heima’s kaleidoscopic richness. Where Heima was lush and colourfully expansive, Inní is spare and near-monochromatic in its tunnel vision. Filmed in a manner that invites both intimacy and claustrophobia, Inní cocoons the viewer in a one-onone relationship with the band, eschewing the audience for closeness, depicting how it feels for both band and fan to experience Sigur Rós live.
When taken in together, Inní’s live album and film give us an incredible account of one of the most celebrated and influential rock bands of recent years, showing where they’ve come from, where they’ve been, and like all things Sigur Rós, where it is they will be going next.
“Shot in black-and-white and running a haunting, emotion-drenched 75 minutes, [inni is] as pure an experience of the cinema as i've had." - Justin Chang, Variety
“The capacity crowd sat in rapture during the quiet moments. At times the music was both delicate and resonant. Much of the show was searingly intense, with Mr. Dyrason flailing at his cymbals and Mr. Birgisson sawing a bow across the strings of his electric guitar. Some songs were studies in the art of crescendo; others were simply explosive.” - The New York Times
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First, the good. The song selection is a splendid collection that spans all their albums. While I wish they would have included the performances of more of the songs they performed at these shows, the ones chosen are excellent. From the opening wail of Jónsi's bow on guitar, we know we're in for a real treat. The Blu-ray offers a very robust DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that faithfully reproduces every sound, from the warm chords of Kjartan's Yamaha CP-80 and Jónsi's trilling falsetto to Georg's thumping bass and Orri's crashing cymbals. The wall of sound envelops the viewer, creating a fairly accurate rendition of the live concert experience. I'm not a fan of live recordings that have the crowd cheering and making noise the whole time, so it was to my pleasant satisfaction that audience noise is only noticeable during the applause at the end of the songs, creating no distractions at all while Sigur Rós is playing. The good part about the visuals is that the camera angles are unique and don't cut so quickly as to be distracting. The longer nature of Sigur Rós' songs tends to lend themselves to a more restrained pace of editing, and I was not at all disappointed to find the edits complemented the music very well.
Unfortunately, there is some bad, all of it relating to the video. The encode on the Blu-ray is likely quite faithful to the source, utilizing an MPEG-4 AVC with a fairly healthy bit-rate. The problem lies in the source, or more specifically, the post production manipulation that went on. I know that director Vincent Morisset likes a desaturated, vintage look, but I feel that he went so far in his manipulation, pushing everything to 11, that it had extremely detrimental results. To achieve his "vintage" look, the video had the color removed (which I was fine with), the image was softened, the highlights were often extraordinarily blown out, copious amounts of grain were added, the brightness was tweaked with a strong pulsating effect, and another effect was often employed that smeared the highlights across the screen. Now, I know that this was intentional because there are four bonus performances where only the color was removed, grain was added, and the pulsing effect was still there, but the highlights looked fine and sharp detail was left virtually unscathed. These four bonus videos looked significantly better than the main, non-bonus feature. I could see Morisset's cumbersome post-processing working fine for a music video or shorter format production, but it doesn't work so well for a 75 minute concert.
Many times while I was watching it, the video quality was so bad that it looked like a poor quality, $1 DVD bin transfer of a B-movie from the early 1900's (I'm serious, and not being facetious here). This is not at all what I would have expected from a Blu-ray of a modern production, even one trying to be stylized as this is. The softness removed all traces of fine detail, which is sad -considering the ornate costuming that Jónsi wears- and I missed out on the enjoyment of seeing the textures of the road-worn instruments. I'm not sure why the highlights were so horribly blown out either, as it destroyed highlight and midtone detail and there was significant video banding in these areas, which is an artifact of modern digital processes and detracts from the intended vintage film look. The smeared highlight effect was thankfully not employed nearly as much as these other effects, but could have still used a little more restraint. The pulsating of the light levels was also very distracting and used very heavy handedly. It was almost enough to give me a headache over the course of 75 minutes. I'm guessing it was intended to emulate the look of early twentieth century silent films, but pulsed to such a ridiculous degree that it detracted from the pleasure of the viewing experience. Again, this was an effect added in post and wasn't an artifact of the venue or lighting setup, as some of the old archival footage that was intercut had the same pulsing effect applied.
If I could have given this 3.5 stars, I would have. Rounding down to three stars seemed too harsh, as I felt that Inni successfully captured the feel, energy, and excitement of attending a live Sigur Rós show, which is no easy feat. I wish the entire concert had been processed more similarly to the bonus footage (minus the pulsating), as it managed to capture the feeling of a vintage show through desaturation and graininess while still maintaining both the fine textures of clothing, hair, and skin, as well as detail in the highlights. Perhaps 4 stars is being too generous, but watching the concert took me back many years to when I got to see them on the road and it makes me eagerly anticipate seeing them again.
You already know the tracks from the product description so I'll go right into the review.
I was not too happy with the video quality. I understand that it is meant to be heavily filtered and "scratchy" looking but I didn't expect this much processing. So video-wise this could've been on a VHS tape and would've looked the same. The only exception is in the Extras which contain four songs. Here the video quality was noticeably better and I wish the whole feature looked like this.
But the real reason I bought it was for the sound and if you've got a good audio surround set up you're going to be very very happy with this purchase. Solid DTS-HD 5.1 sound. Admittedly, sound quality is not quite as good as John Mayer: Where the Light Is - Live in Los Angeles, but its quite damn close. So that wraps it up I think.
Also, quick note on the sound - The four Extra tracks are not in DTS, they're merely 2 channel Dolby Digital. So in one scenario you've got average video but great sound and then you have much better video but average sound. Well, you cant have it all!
Now go buy it tiger!
So why 3 stars? The audio sounds fantastic, the source material is great, and you get the 2 audio CDs that do capture the greatness of Sigur Ros live in concert. But this could have been so much more. As is, it's pretty much red meat for fans (and worth it for those who are willing to pay based on the audio only), but anyone would be better served by the (unfortunately lower definition) Heima.
I am using an Oppo 93 with pure audio turned on (cancels the video stream so audio sounds even better). The video is very artsy id probably give it 3stars but don't be put off by this fantastic band and incredible HD soundtrack. This is pretty much a very high definition CD as are all concert/music blurays.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars. All other reviews have already pointed out the video is very artsy, very grainy and very deep. I personally like it but thats just me. For all who love sigur ros and want incredible SOUND i highly recommend getting this over the dvd.
Have listened to it nonstop since 2PM when i received it.
Update: Have been listening to both CDs using my Oppo 93 as a cd player and both cds sound fantastic. Very surprised that there both live CDs and were given a good audio recording. So overall good buy amazing audio quality for bluray and both CDs.
Also, the audio quality is impeccable. Sigur Ros have never sounded this good on a home stereo, and I am grateful for the extra sense of immersion the 5.1 surround sound creates. The two audio discs are great as well. I love that the crowd is very muted during the performances, and then after the pieces are done, it's almost like you're cheering along with them!
Overall, this is a wonderful Sigur Ros release: artistic, emotional, and a vital addition to a rabid fan's collection, or a wonderful entry-point for a newcomer. I hope this has opened the minds of potential buyers who were turned off by the thought of the visuals of this release not being as crystal clear as they could possibly be... it's for the best!