Jónsi and Alex Present Riceboy Sleeps at Theatre Maisonneuve

Jónsi and Alex perform their ambient album Riceboy Sleeps in its entirety featuring a 40 person orchestra!

Wandering in from the autumn dampness, we find strangers coming together for the same reason. With fans in the crowd donning Sigur Rós t-shirts and iconic Icelandic wool sweaters, one cannot help but feel that they have stumbled upon a family reunion. Once settled in their seats and with the rush of the crowd gone, each individual comes face to face with an intimate orchestra. With the conversation slowly dying and the lights falling, we are lifted with the first few notes out of our present day and brought into the world of nsi and Alex.

This ambient duo comprises of singer/songwriter Jón Þór Birgisson, Jónsi, who is better known as the lead singer of Sigur Rós and his partner Alex Somers, a visual artist. Jónsi and Alex have released only two albums in their career with the most famous being that of Riceboy Sleeps. Despite it being released 10 years ago, this tour was the first time they have ever performed it live. Specifically for the tour, the duo brought in the Wordless Music Orchestra, a group founded by a non musician, in efforts to create a bridge between classical and mainstream music. They have partnered with Sigur Rós in the past, as well with John Cale, hann Jóhannson and Goldfrapp amongst others.

    The collaboration between the two groups seemed effortless. With over 40 musicians, the Wordless Music orchestra blended seamlessly with the electronic works of Jónsi and Alex. Playing with concepts of timing and sound, the result was a genre defying ambient experience. Unlike Sigur Rós, Jónsi and Alex had no visuals to accompany their music, leaving more space for personal interpretation and listening. Looking around in the audience you could see many people closing their eyes and taking in the experience, exercising their imagination. As per usual, hardcore fans would be very pleased to hear Jónsi's classic vocalisations and to see his famous guitar and bow, which he plays like a cello.    

Upon the conclusion of the concert, it seemed as if everyone was taken aback by what they had witnessed. After giving a standing ovation, the crowd neatly shuffled out. Relearning perhaps how to re-enter the real world after such a unique experience. With this performance Jónsi and Alex have brought their long awaited vision to life, which without a doubt is unmistakingly theirs.


Lisa Rupnik is a full time student at Concordia in Therapeutic Recreation, a part time arts and crafts teacher, and lover of foreign films.