This article presents a musicological and ecocritical close reading of the song “Brennisteinn” (“sulphur” or, literally, “burning rock”) by the acclaimed post-rock band Sigur Rós. The song— and its accompanying music video—features musical, lyrical, and audiovisual means of registering the turbulence of living in volcanic landscapes. My analysis of Sigur Rós’s music opens up a window into an Icelandic cultural history of inhabiting a risky Earth, a condition captured by anthropologist Gísli Pálsson’s concept of geosociality, which emerged from his ethnography in communities living with volcanoes. Geosociality allows for a “down to earth” perspective that accounts for the liveliness of the ground below our feet. Likewise, in Sigur Rós’s “Brennisteinn”, we encounter a musical imagination of the geologic that poses a challenge to hegemonic concepts of nature founded on notions of equilibrium and permanence. The article culminates with a consideration of what such a geologically minded aesthetics can offer us in the age of the Anthropocene.
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