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Sigur Rós - Ágćtis Byrjun CD (album) cover


Sigur Rós


Post Rock/Math rock

4.14 | 561 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.1 Stars: Creative minimalist beauty

This is an album very difficult to describe as I don't think I've ever heard anything like this. This album is ambiental and minimalist (as in using repetition) and barely rocks. You might call it new age, but it is different from that. One example is the lack of synthesizers. Here, the music is played by symphonies, extremely reverbed electric guitars played with a cello bow, and standard rock instruments. The tone of the music is generally bright and happy and can really uplift you even if you don't understand the icelandic lyrics. Just like the way Radiohead depresses you instrumentally with "Kid A", this album instrumentally lifts you up because the band knows how to make the music emotional.

The reverbed guitar is introduced in the first epic "Stefn-g-englar" and is used in many other songs such as "Hjartao". The vocals are very unusual and makes me wonder if the singer is a man or a woman. They certainly work in this album for me, though I might understand if someone does not like the vocalist since some of the vocal approaches can be a bit overwhelming and repetitive ("It's Youuuu" in Svefn-g-Englar).

I don't think the intro has much to offer besides a preparation of the next track called Svefn-g-Englar which is a song that represents the band's sound. All of the elements discussed above are present here, though the song ends into an surprisingly unecessary electronica beat. Star Alfur is the happiest song of the album and also probably the band's most accessible track in their career. It features gorgeous orchestration that fits perfectly into the poppy sound of the song. There are also some unusual elements such as a distorted acoustic guitar (?), and stop-start part that introduces the initial melody with symphonic percussion. Due to the genius use of the Orchestra and the brilliant melodies, I think that this is one of the most beautiful modern songs I've ever heard. Flugufrelsarinn uses the laid back atmosphere and soaring reverb guitars from "Svefn", though I believe this song is stronger because it avoids having an irritating vocal hook like Stefn's "It's you" and is not as repetitive. Ný Battery starts as a subdued horn arrangement and mysterious bass line until it crushes you with a simplistic, yet perfect drum line. Hjartaő Hamast is the next main highlight of the album: an uptempo song driven by a masterful ascending riff. The choruses of this song are extremely powerful with the soaring guitars going louder than metal. Viőrar Vel Til Loftárasa uses a great melancholic piano melody and builds from there. A very minimalist piece, but very effective overall and one of the highlights of the album. Olsen Olsen begins as a laidback song and ends with bombast and euphoria. Ágaetis Byrjun is probably the least memorable track of the album, yet still stands as a good song with excellent piano work. Avalon is the outro, just like the intro serves as the beginning of the album.

I highly recommend this album as it is something very different. Voted as the best album from Iceland in the 20th century, there is a lot to like about this album.

Highlights: Star Alfur, Hjartao Hamast, Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa.

Let Downs: None, though the music after Viorar Vel is not as strong as the rest

My Grade : B

Zitro | 4/5 |


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