In all fairness, we were warned.
Before Sigur Rós played a rare DJ set for Berlin's Boiler Room last week, they took the unusual step of advising fans what not to expect: namely, "glacial soundscapes of awesome dimensions" or "warm bubble baths of yoga wind-down muzak" or any of the other "enduring clichés" about the Icelandic band's sweeping, ethereal sound.
They weren't kidding. In what might be the greatest stylistic 180 since Spinal Tap Mark II Performs Jazz Odyssey, the trio of Jonsi, Kjartan Holm, and Sigrun Jonsdottir crowded around an iPad and dialed up an unsteady stream of dubstep, trap-rave, Baltimore club, and commercial EDM — precisely what Jonsi told SPIN the band listens to on the tour bus — to decidedly mixed reviews.
The archived set hasn't been posted online yet, but if you missed the chance to tipple from the Triple Nipple — the band's nom de Serato — fear not, because they've also recorded a DJ mix for FACT, and it's every bit as bewildering as the band promised of its Boiler Room set.
They open with a red herring — a minute or so of just the kind of reverberant choral music that you might indeed expect them to be jamming when not casting spells in made-up tongues, parting the seas, communing with woodland elves, etc. — before abruptly flipping into DJ Blaqstarr and Rye Rye's "Shake It to the Ground," and from that point on, all bets are off. In the course of 50 minutes, they blast through Baltimore club (Jimmy Jones' "Watch Out for the Big Girl"), hip-hop (Angel Haze' "Werkin' Girls," M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls"), ghetto-tech (DJ Assault's "Raccoon"), trap (Antiserum & Mayhem's "Spend It"), big-room electro house (Sidney Samson's "The World Is Yours," Sawhead's "Crazed," Tritonal's "Still With Me (Seven Lions Remix)," Pendulum's "The Island Part 2"), and dubstep (Awe's "Jurassic," and a track we can't identify that sounds like a trash compactor trying to commit seppuku). All that, and not a single whale song or creaking of a melting glacier.
"God weeping tears of gold in heaven" it ain't, perhaps, but, given that this is surely the first time that the majority of these tunes have ever been aired on the staunchly underground Boiler Room, it makes for an entertaining exercise in culture-jamming. And if you're thinking about jumping on the forums to complain, just remember what Jonsi told SPIN last month: "I haven't read any reviews by the music press about us in, like, 15 years."
Grab your glowsticks, and stream the whole mix here.