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Sigur Rós - Ágćtis Byrjun CD (album) cover


Sigur Rós


Post Rock/Math rock

4.14 | 556 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Mesmirising haunting ambience.

This album was always at the top of my lists of a must hear Sigur Ros due to the high regard among proggers and in particular the write up in a well known music magazine. I was also drawn in by the beautiful cover art of an angelic embryo floating in a neon glow. The iconic emblematic art signifies the floating music that Sigur Ros emanate. As the album begins one is immediately transported to the Icelandic chill of the frozen tundras. The incomprehensible language adds to the mystique. The music sounds cold and distant but somehow comforting. The album title "Ágćtis Byrjun" means "A good beginning", which is apt as it was the beginning of greatness for the band that went on to become major successes worldwide.

It begins with an Intro of backwards strings and synths. Then is followed by 'Svefn-G-Englar', one of the more serene tracks; virtually a one note piece with very high register spaced out vocals, along streams of violins and patient measured percussion. The dreamy synths are meandering slowly and everything slows inexorably from this track on.

The highlight of the album that resonated with me from first listen is 'Staralfur' with gorgeous chimes, violins, and tearful vocals. The melancholy that is built with stirring violins and organic atmospherics is stunning. This is highly original music designed to touch the emptions at the deepest level. It ends with cold static leading to the next song.

'Flugufrelsarinn' is a haunting soundscape adorned with ominous strings and keys. The vocals are more middle register and no less wracked in emotional longing. 'Ny Batteri' has an Oriental feel, and features slow paced horns, a relaxed feel on keyboards, with some intense moments on loud drums, that are released into pleasant calm and almost silence. The vocals are ultra high falsetto and sung in a laid back but beautiful melody.

'Hjartao Hamast (Bamm Bamm Bamm)' utilises harmonica with piano embellishments and then the trademark vocals chime in. There is a degree of experimental work to generate unusual rather creepy atmospheres. 'Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa' begins as a distant zone of feedback loops and spacey atmospheres. The infinitely patient piano is heavenly and is joined by symphonic strings and some psychedelic vocals. It builds to a crescendo of interlacing violins and improvised melodies that overlap and become chaotic along with sporadic drumming.

'Olsen Olsen' begins with distant spacey vibes on vocals and some percussion, with a repeated guitar phrase and ambience at the low end flows along. The majestic ending with multitracked choirs and uplifting melodies is very unusual in comparison to the ambience previously.

'Agaetis Byrjun' has a powerful scape of uplifting beauty with piano augmentations and some scraping sounds with a moderate percussion. The chimes add to the dreaminess, and then high falsetto vocals mixed to the front glaze over the freezing landscape. 'Avalon' is a trip into space with keyboards and winding ribbons of cello sounds. The exploration of ambient textures is striking and it builds until some experimental twangs are heard to end the journey.

This is certainly one of the best Sigur Ros albums and may take some out of their comfort zone such is the starkness of the extreme ambient music. It takes a degree of patience to endure the full 70 minute journey but makes nice dreamy relaxing music at the end of a busy day to kick back to. It is a full immersive atmospheric journey that has the power to relax the senses. The band built up a very solid fanbase from this album to present day.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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