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Sigur Rós - Von CD (album) cover


Sigur Rós

Post Rock/Math rock

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3 stars I was a little suprised in hearing this album the first time through, not knowing what to expect. I had heard SIGUR RÓS's later albums beforehand. The least to say I was pleasantly suprised. It does not hold up as well as their later stuff as far as musical direction goes. It really takes a while for the album to take off, but when it does, it really does. You can clearly hear traditionaly guitar work on this one, unlike the later material. It's not a masterpiece, but worth checking if your a SIGUR RÓS fan or in the mood for some a little adventurous.
Report this review (#34510)
Posted Friday, March 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars While I did find a little more to listen to on Von than Bryan Adair, I concur with his overall conclusion that this is an album only for the real SIGUR ROS fan who is interested in seeing just how much the band has changed. To me, it's absolutely incredible that they were able to follow this with the absolutely spotless, sweeping, symphonic Agaetis Byrjun...because this poorly-produced, slapped-together seeming album could well have sunk the band, and is really more of a 1.5 than the 2 I gave it.

Had I been listening to Von with no knowledge of what was to be honest, I would have either expected the band to fall into obscurity except for its native Iceland--and if it did have a breakthrough, for it to be in the poppier vein of "Hún Jörđ" or "Myrkur", the latter of which has serious shades of RADIOHEAD. "Myrkur", almost alone among SIGUR ROS' songs, actually has lyrics that you can sing to if you pay attention and follow the lyrics booklet (yes, this one actually came with lyrics!)--even if you don't know Icelandic. "Von" itself also avoids excess and becomes a likeable song, with some pretty vocals from JONSI BIRGISON.

Overall, this is more of an ambient collection than a serious musical album. Tracks like the opening "Sigur Rós" and "Haffsól" have a great atmosphere at times, but then they run on too long for their own good and often fall apart at the end, ruining the ambience they have created. Other, somewhat shorter tracks like "Veröld Ný Og Óđ" (which I personally liked) are also in the ambient vein. This percussion piece would probably satisfy people who enjoyed "Convergence" on RADIOHEAD composer JONNY GREENWOOD's solo album Bodysong, although I think the latter piece is more satisfying. Other tracks are a complete, pretentious disaster, most especially "Rukrym", which is something like six minutes of dead silence and then "Myrkur" run backwards...and most especially "18 Sekúndur Fyrir Sólarupprás"--which if I am reading that properly, seems to mean "18 Seconds for Sunrise"...and I believe it's 18 seconds of silence! I can't even remember properly because there was so little to cling to.

While I can't give this a 1, this album will probably try the patience of even a dedicated SIGUR ROS fan, and only the serious fans should get this one--as a historical piece.

Report this review (#36508)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
[email protected]
5 stars When people first started raving about Sigur Ros, back before they were *everywhere* (we've even just noticed their music used as the soundtrack to an autopsy scene on the TV show CSI!) and we had yet to hear them, we were so excited. This sounded like the band for us. Ethereal but rocking, with strange ghostly vocals, and bizarre production, lush and dark and lovely. When we finally heard them, we were a bit underwhelmed. Not to take anything away from Sigur Ros. They ARE a great band, it was just a case of too much hype and expectations set way to high. But weirdly enough, the first Sigur Ros record we heard was not in fact their first record. But THIS is their first record. And up until recently, pretty much unavailble here in the States. Well, it's finally been licensed and man is it great! If we had heard THIS record first, we would have been totally sold. Von totally lives up to the hype. A weird mix of Radiohead and Pink Floyd and My Bloody Valentine, with those eerie alien sounding falsetto vocals and lots of gorgeous ambience. It sounds kind of like the soundtrack to the scariest movie you've ever seen. The tracks on Von are dark and slowly building, rumbling and creaking, with distant melodies, and whispery vocalisations (in Sigur Ros's made up language 'Hopelandic'). So intense. And when they do rock, they REALLY ROCK. Thumping and hypnotic, heavy and repetitive. A little like Mogwai or Explosions In Ths Sky. One of the highlights is definitely the third track, a swirl of creepy introspective ambience with haunting otherworldly vocals, that eventually turns into a pounding shoegazing / noiserock dirge, simple and relentless, until near the end when the tape starts slowing down and the riff gets chopped up like a skipping cd. Weird and beautifully massive. Most of this record is way darker and way more aggressive than later Sigur Ros and as you can tell from our review, we think that this is a very good thing! Packged in a dark purple jewel case with a creepy doll head on the cover. SO GREAT!
Report this review (#44798)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars It would take a prophet to predict Sigur Ros' illustrious future from Von. Sigur Ros deal much more with an electronic sound than anywhere else in their career. The tremendous atmospheres and full, lush, layers of sound that they built their latter career on make only brief appearances here. The instrumentation is cut down, and this can be heard in the tracks which sometimes sound a bit empty. Von is more an experiment in minimalism and some avant-garde noise aspect than post-rock.

Even Jonsi's voice which should be immediately recognizable to any Sigur Ros listener comes off very different here. At times it almost sounds human and really lacks the rich, angelic quality that I'm used to. It's also featured much less in the songs than one would expect which may be a good thing given its lack of quality here.

This break of character could provide for a really interesting album, but the quality necessary just isn't there. A good portion of the songs are a bit monotonous and repetitive. There's certainly good moments, even good songs ("Dögun" and "Von" standout), but it's definitely less than you've come to expect and not what you've come to expect from Sigur Ros.

Report this review (#132545)
Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Hard to describe, so I´m not going into an individual song description. Most of it sounds just like surrealistic troppy noise making. A couple of tracks are quite good (such as Myrkur or Hafssól), but mostly it´s just directionless and uninspired.

Overall rating: 1 star


Report this review (#132684)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is it - when obscurity plays for album, not against it.

''Von'' was surrounded with a flair of mystery, as the Icelandic-only debut album by the all-mighty Post-Rock gods SIGUR ROS. Re- issued in 2004, it has become on of the major disappontments for many that year. In fact, there was nothing special about ''Von'' - it was nice album, a little bit too rough and raw, a little bit too muddy recorded and weak in songwriting side. It has some nice moments, notably the title track - almost 10 minutes of frightening ambience for an album's opener, quite challenging! Besides it's SR's darkest track still, I like it very much but find it useless as a song ;) Other tracks fall into Shoegaze/Psych Rock category, with wall-of-sound approach, a little bit of early Pink Floyd here, a little bit of Ride there and even a bit of Kraut-Rock everywhere. Definitely non-essential, serving for fans to let them know how SR has began; but if you're deeply into loose Psychedelic stuff, this one is worthy of checking

Report this review (#157300)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars While Sigur Ros did become one of the leaders in musical innovation, and a masterpiece machine to boot, they didn't quite get it right the first time around. In fact, it was very far from right. Far left, I suppose. Or is it wrong? I get confused with contexts far too much! Anyhow, the band's debut, Von, is more of a tolerance test than an album. Much of this album is amibence, some of it draws from shoegazer music, and the rest is somewhat psychadelic. The lush sound backdrop was attempted here (the abysmal production more or less defeats the purpose), and Jonsi's voice is what it is, but other than that this bears practically no resemblance to the Sigur Ros we know and love today. And that time I mean it in a bad way. The only track worth keeping is the title track.

Apparently the band originally paid for this album by washing windows at the studio they recorded it at. Neat story, but don't let it fool you into thinking you should own it! My advice is to steer clear of this one, start with their first proper/good full-length Ágćtis Byrjun. Everything from that one on is brilliant (and well-produced)! History has its place, and often times that place is history. Such is the case with Von. It's hard to give out one-star reviews, because often times there is some good in an album, or it will please some people. But here, in addition to the fact that I would score every album after this with at least four stars (probably even going straight fives), I'm going to give this one the dreaded single-star score. Don't look into this album unless you are already familiar with the band's other material!

Report this review (#172594)
Posted Friday, May 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Von is the debut studio album from Iceland´s experimental/ post rock legends Sigur Rós. I´ve read many reviews of Sigur Rós albums over the years but never listened to anything from them ( I might have seen a video once, I seem to remember something but I´m not sure). From the other reviews here on PA I can read that this album is not the best place to start with the band and I can only agree with that.

The music is very ambient, very noisy and extremely repetitive. Out of the very ( too) long playing time ( 72:19 minutes) there´s only a few minutes of structured music that actually sounds like songs. The rest is ambient sound experiments. At least that´s what it sounds like to my ears. The beautiful cover artwork lured me into believing that I was in for something special ( stupid me. I´ll never trust glossy pictures again), but I was terribly let down. Just getting through the opening songs 9:47 minutes was something of a trial for me. I guess I just don´t have the patience for this extremely long drawn and repetitive music/ sounds. Music this extreme will always be an aquired taste, I know that, but Sigur Rós really takes it too far on Von. There are redeeming moments on the album and I would like to mention Syndir Guđs (Opinberun Frelsarans) which is by far the best song on the album IMO. There´s drums and something that reminds me of structured songwriting present in that song. Too bad the album ends with several minutes of silence before we´re treated with backwards played song noises. That borders waste of time IMO.

The musicianship seems allright, but I´m having a hard time judging their skills from the occasional bits of songs that occur between the ambient sounds.

The production is good, but it doesn´t really soothe my ears.

I don´t give out many 1 star ratings, and quite frankly I hate to give them, because when I do, it means that I have just spend time listening to an album that I dislike more than usual. I never quite feel that the time was totally wasted though as I like to broaden my horizon with new or unknown acts. Sometimes my curiosity works and I´m rewarded with something exciting and sometimes it don´t. It´s pretty obvious that it didn´t work at all with Von. A 1 star rating it is. I hope I didn´t step on too many toes in my review but it´s a bit difficult not to sound a bit negative in a 1 star review.

Report this review (#196113)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am rather shocked at the general low ratings this album gets, as I think (outside of Aegetis Byrjun) this is their best. I certainly prefer it to the boring Takk. It's extremely strange to say the least. Pretentious? I don't think so - not when it only sold 300 copies on its first release (so I'm told).

It's like a full-on experimentation with minimalism - and very brave and careless about what people might think (I think that's what's gone wrong with them now - though I suppose they make a good living on it now). The first two tracks are almost a collection of weird noises - the sort of thing a young person does when (s)he first discovers you can record things in your bedroom.

But oddly, it works - the result is a kind of ghostly, peaceful sound that you can lose yourself to in a most relaxing manner. It kind of sends you to sleep when you most need it.

Then you wake up in the middle of some most strange but beautiful music in Hun Jord, Myrkyr, Haffsol and Von - superb haunting tracks, which I'm sure they'll never repeat. Interestingly they seem to use more guitar effects and drumming than they do now.

Warning - if you like the wild solos and virtuoso performances of classic prog - you will NOT find it here. But what you find is something altogether different and peaceful that could take you into space.

Great music from a band in their formative days - of which commercial success has not helped in their more recent offerings.

Report this review (#196716)
Posted Thursday, January 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
4 stars The ethereal post-rockers from Iceland hit it big with their huge international hits "Ágćtis byrjun" and "( )" but the band really began way back in 1994 in Reykjavik slowly developing their post-rock visions and finally releasing their debut album VON ("Hope" in Icelandic") in 1997. This is one of those overproduced albums that the band states turned out nothing like planned but when all was said and done decided to stick with the finished produced due to all the money and time expended. While the album was only moderately successful in their native Iceland at the time of release, after international fame came from the more ethereal and successful albums that followed, VON was re-released and has since become an well established and well known release in the band's discog.

It's quite the surprise that this is a sort of a proto-SIGUR ROS album that has all the elements of future releases in play but doesn't quite make them gel together in the brilliant cohesive manner of later albums. The ethereal parts are here of course as are the post-rock elements but they don't quite wanna go on a date together yet and what we are treated to here are snippets of ideas albeit lengthy meandering snippets that exhibit sonic interests but haven't been put on the work table as to how to properly gestate their nascency into a fully functioning organism, therefore leaving a disjointed feel for the whole shebang, And no one hearing this album at the time would ever been able to predict that this album would lead to a band that would create some seriously bizarre and original music.

Track one which is ironically titled "SIGUR ROS" which is a frightening ambient track with high pitched vocal screeches, synthesized horrific sounds and depressive developments that ultimately cedes into the second track "Dögun" which sounds like the Cocteau Twins on valium or something. A rather de-popped space pop version of something on "Victorialand" where the female vocals echo and bellow amidst the shimmering sonicities of ambient keys creating the sonic counterpart to a desert mirage. It turns into a full-fledged ambient desert caravan surreal effect that creates a most surreal and outlandish collage effect of a single melodic note being accompanied by sound effects. Tracks like ""Hún Jörđ ?" are very Dead Can Dance-ish but with heavy alternative rock accompanying it.

As stated, this album is really packed full of different cool ideas but doesn't quite simmer them down into a digestible tonic and a little bitterness must be experienced to get much out of this album, but if you have a taste for such things, then this is a crude and raw first step into the SIGUR ROS universe as it shows just how the group threw all the ingredients into the cauldron and boiled them down into a musical blessing. Personally i love this album on rare occasions as it requires the precise mood to enjoy but when that mood hits me, VON is a distinct and bona fide mood enhancer indeed. This is probably one of the hardest SIGUR ROS albums in that it has frenzied guitar passages despite accompanying mid-tempo percussion.

As with many debut albums, i have a soft spot for the totally experimental that the brave and the bold display. SIGUR ROS is one of those bands. The passion is on full flame here even if the full compositional prowess had not yet developed. I love this album simply for its utter unpredictability where ambience and hard post-rock alternate, marry and then divorce in sudden whims of passion. While not nearly as ethereal as future releases, VON is definitely a post-rocker's eclectic dream come true with jangle pop, ambient, drone, shoe gaze and avant grade all having a sublime orgy of sonic possibilities and for that it is truly innovative in its approach despite not being mature enough to create something that would pass as totally grown-up.

3.5 rounded UP because this is a really cool album that doesn't get enough love

Report this review (#1591652)
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 | Review Permalink

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