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I have been a fan of Sigur Ros for over 4 years, having been exposed to them by my daughter, who thought this right up my alley. And she was blindingly right. I have witnessed them twice live. This is amazing stuff. Now, not everything they do is amazing....some of it is rather pedestrian. Tedious. A little embarrassing. Even Mozart wrote uninteresting music. But there is nothing dull on this CD. It is transcendent and intoxicating. Their consistently best work to date.
I do not believe snippets or scraps can really capture what this can do. You need to immerse yourself into the world they create, a sonic palace of bizarre digital noises and weird little drones, a wispy little vocalist and a breathtakingly brilliant percussionist, and savor it all. Unlike anything else, and unrelated to anything else, it stands on its own as something worth experiencing and enjoying.
Sigur Ros is like a Jackson Pollack painting. Often when you look at a Pollack, not a print but the real thing, you wonder what the heck he thought he was up to. He got paid for that? But sometimes Pollack hit it perfectly; he took the same old swirls and drips and spatters on every painter's dropcloth and produced something gorgeous and permanent. This CD has all winners on it, a flow and a movement using the the most elementary, and often most repetitive, little sounds and weaving and blending them into a tapestry of endlessly surprising and often unimaginable beauty.
After a beautiful appetizer of an intro, the album goes right into the epic "Svefn-G-Englar" (try saying that 10 times fast), 10 minutes that may as well last a lifetime. It sounds like a submarine maneuvering through a newly discovered celestial body. Relaxing, powerful, and touching all at once, it sets the tone for the rest of what follows. "Staralfur" follows, a track as hopeful as a newborn child's birth. Listening to it is as cathartic as My Bloody Valentine's shimmering wave of feedback from ten years ago. After the demise (or hibernation) of that band, it's wonderful to see a new band trying to bring rock music to an entirely different level.
Scared of the language barrier? Don't be. Like any opera, the emotion comes through regardless of whether or not you can understand the words. From the dazzle of "Svefn-G-Englar" to the Celtic waterfall of "Olsen Olsen," Sigur Ros bursts with feelings of hope, despair, happiness, sadness, and all points in between, perhaps even creating new emotions as they go along. It's an incredible achievement, not likely to be matched by anybody anytime soon. Unless you count the band itself, but they may have moved on to another solar system by then.
For an album who's songs stretch up into the the ten minute range, this is a very accessable record. The instrumentals are soothing yet intense, often at the same time (think Kid A-era Radiohead), as this is very much mood music. Pianos interweave with bowed electric guitars, fingerpicked acoustics, moderate percussion, keyboard melodies, etcetera. One song (Olsen Olsen, I believe) even has a somewhat dischordant orchestral bombast.
As far as the vocals, Jonsi has a beautiful falsetto (no one I play this for believes that's a guy at first), and even though I don't understand the lyrics (they are Icelandic after all), I like the tonal quality of them.
To a point, Vanilla Sky did for Sigur Ros what Benny & Joon did for the Proclaimers: gave an unknown band stateside a few minutes in the spotlight. Given, Sven-g-Englar (which loosely translates to Sleepwalkers I think), the song on the VS soundtrack, is one you hear people going on about a lot. The standout, in my opinion however, is the title track, Agaetis Byrjun (A Good Beginning). Both are fantastic songs, though, and the rest of the album isn't much behind.
So yes. If you're in the mood for a three minute pop hook, obviously you would do well to look elsewhere. If you're willing to invest a little patience, however, Agaetis Byrjun is a top cut. Let it wash over you and see where it takes you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We love this band/album so much we decided to incorporate it into our wedding. I walked down the aisle to Staralfur. :)Published 18 days ago by Maegan Bell Wilder
Sigur Ros is one of my favorites, and I love relaxing to this albumPublished 2 months ago by Cassidy Yasell
Amazon you need to fix the fact that I just bought this album but have no way to access it because amazon music isn't compatible with my os according to Google play. Read morePublished 6 months ago by KTSFM
This album is a gateway into the heavens. One of my favorites by the great sigur ros. Came in 4 days in perfect condition and comes with the cd as well, which is perfect for my... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ryan A.