Jon Thor (Jónsi) Birgisson & Alex Somers, Sigur Ros - Riceboy Sleeps album launch

Alisha Ahmed 31/07/2009

The first time I read about Riceboy Sleeps, that was still the name of the whole project. It was just later on in the process that it became the name of an album by Jonsi & Alex, who are Jón Þór Birgisson, the ethereal voice of Sigur Ros, and Jonsi's life partner Alex Somers, visual artist behind the artwork for 'Takk' among other projects.

Back then I could barely contain my excitement, because it meant that, even if Sigur Ros had an album out just barely a year ago (the multi acclaimed með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust) there wouldn't be long to wait for more Sigur-related material because something in the same vein would be out soon.

Riceboy Sleeps is more along the lines of the early instrumental melancholic Sigur Ros. No structured songs, like those that featured on their last album, no happy vocals, no vocals at all in fact! Riceboy Sleeps is some sort of soundtrack music, but this movie is inspired by Jonsi & Alex's life together in Reykjavik. Literally, as most of it it's been recorded in their own house.

Well the wait is over and Riceboy Sleeps was released on July the 20th, and they celebrated this date in London with a launch party in Soho. Knowing their peculiar approach to the common social that have characterized Sigur Ros down the years I expected something unconventional, but I am not sure I was quite prepared for what occurred:

A french patisserie
Champagne & Strawberries and the strongest almost-pure alcohol liquid I ever tried (apparently it's a typical icelandic drink "Brennivian" that directly translates into "Black Death" for obvious reasons)
Waiters that were supposed to wear "old-style clothes" stripped down to shorts and feathers.
All decorated by helium balloons.

The Maison Bertaux has been the place of choice for the launch on July 20th, this lovely french shop in the heart of Soho will also host the art exhibition (mainly paintings upstairs, but you want to go downstairs to see what's been prepared there as well, trust me on this) with pieces by Jonsi & Alex, for the next 3 months. The whole thing had the same bittersweet taste, both lovely and heartbreaking that was perfectly synthesized by the concept of a nice thing such as the balloons decorating the entire venue, but presented in a sinister way, as the balloons were all painted black.

The party hosted by the two lovely boys: who were nothing but the perfect hosts. Alex is one of the cutest, most gracious people I have ever had the privilege to meet, and seeing Jonsi has always has a the taste of a divine experience, like being in presence of a superior being. (I am sorry to put the weight of such expectations on him, but if it's of any consolation, he has never disappointed me so far).

The launch party was supposed to last just a couple of hours, but I saw how most people lost track of time in the good atmosphere (and drinks) that was created to host the ethereal art by Jonsi & Alex, an art that has a lot more ways to express itself than just music.