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Sigur Rós - Ágćtis Byrjun CD (album) cover


Sigur Rós


Post Rock/Math rock

4.12 | 576 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Of the two SIGUR ROS albums, I would characterize Agaetis Byrjun as the more orchestral of the two, using fuller, more sweeping arrangements. There is also more use of ambient sound effects. It's also, in spite of the darker cover art, the brighter and more optimistic of the two. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this evokes in me the beauty I might imagine in Heaven. Yes, there are some dark places here, but overall, this is a very comforting work to listen to.

Probably PINK FLOYD's album Meddle is one of the best comparisons--especially to "Svefn-G-Englar", which seems to have been heavily influenced by "Echoes". Although "Svefn-G-Englar" is not an epic on the scale of "Echoes", it manages in its own way, the same kind of relaxed beauty found in the opening and closing sections of the PINK FLOYD song. The classic rock influences also show in SIGUR ROS' reliance on more traditional instruments rather than allowing it to be completely synth-driven. The Hammond organ is clearly audible in "Svefn-G-Englar", and the Rhodes electric piano is featured in "Hjartad hamast". Also, the haunting backdrop common to most SIGUR ROS songs is not created by a synth, but instead by an electric guitar played with a cello bow. JONSI's voice, rather than conveying any message, is an instrument in and of itself, even higher than RADIOHEAD's THOM YORKE, and even more melodic.

While it is all quite good, my absolute favorite tracks, without a doubt, are "Staralfur" and "Hjartad hamast". A gorgeous piano riff in "Staralfur" serves as the backdrop to a beautiful string section. This is the sort of work with which I would love to be greeted in Heaven--especially the final great orchestral solo. "Hjartad hamast" is a very interesting combination between a melancholy-seeming blues-influenced piece and a sequence so beautiful that it evokes a sense of flying. In light of that section, even the more brooding sections no longer seem so dark.

Other highlights include the percussion work on "Ny batteri" and the piano on "Vidrar vel til loftarasa", as well as its innovative orchestral outro. The last two tracks seem to move in a less orchestral direction that foreshadows the work on ( ). "Avalon" even takes on a somewhat minimalist approach not unlike TALK TALK's later work. Lately, this album has even been a comfort in trying to deal with a recent loss. Others' perception of the music may differ, but the overall effect of this album is to uplift. While I respect both Agaetis Byrjun and ( ), I must say that this is the strongest of the two.

FloydWright | 5/5 |


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