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ÁGĆTIS BYRJUN

Sigur Rós

Post Rock/Math rock


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Sigur Rós Ágćtis Byrjun album cover
4.12 | 414 ratings | 62 reviews | 46% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Intro (1:36)
2. Svefn-g-englar (10:04)
3. Starálfur (6:46)
4. Flugufrelsarinn (7:48)
5. Ný batterí (8:10)
6. Hjartađ hamast (bamm bamm bamm) (7:10)
7. Viđrar vel til loftárasa (10:17)
8. Olsen Olsen (8:03)
9. Ágćtis byrjun (7:55)
10. Avalon (4:02)

Total Time: 71:51

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Jónsi Birgisson / vocals, guitars
- Georg Holm / bass
- Ágúst / drums
- Kjartan Sveinsson / keyboards

Releases information

CD Bad Taste [Iceland] 79 (1999) / CD FatCat 11 (2000) / CD PIAS America 1 (2001)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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SIGUR RÓS Ágćtis Byrjun ratings distribution


4.12
(414 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(46%)
46%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
31%
Good, but non-essential (14%)
14%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

SIGUR RÓS Ágćtis Byrjun reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by FloydWright
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.

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Send comments to FloydWright (BETA) | Report this review (#34511) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 17, 2005

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a very good album coming from a band who decided to enforce their own originality...Icelandic in nature and some fine vocal/musical interlay. This in my opinion is their strongest offering, the other albums being somewhat self indulgent. There have been comparisons made between this band and Pink Floyd, especially this album. I have to counter that by saying that there is nothing comparable to Floyd here from Sigur Ros. Give them credit for originality sure but apart from the psychedelic era of PF, PF never went errant in the form of pompous meanderings where Sigur Ros do occassionally. Worth checking out though especially this album.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#34514) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 18, 2005

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yes, this is a very good, laidback chiller album, with moody, emotional music. You can survive through it even in a bad hangover, listen it on the background or meditate through it intensively. The rhythms are slow and soft, and the instruments have smooth, pleasant tones. The mishmash language they sing is also soft and beautiful, so it doesn't matter even if you wouldn't understand the lyrics. Vocals work as an instrument, in the way I understand Jon Anderson tried to do in the golden days of Yes. Buy it, and try even if you're not into prog music!

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#34516) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 01, 2005

Review by frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album will go really well with "( )". They are both great albums to own and they go together well. I feel like "( )" is sigur ros' sad, downer album, whilst this album is the uplifting happy album. Depending on what mood your after, they will both serve you well.

The intro on this album is a little sum up of sounds on the way. The second track is an odd one, althought it doesn't progress much and lasts 10 minutes i find it very listenable. It has a captivating spacey atmosphere and the vocals are positive and lifting. The track ends with a cool dark side of the moon-esque heartbeat that adds to the atmosphere of this piece. This piece is very warm and fills you with a good feeling. It may require patience as it is a bit long winding but this is one of my fave pieces by Sigur Ros.

Track 3 however, is definitely my favourite of all their tracks. It has an amazing orchestral score to it and the vocals are at their best. When the violins and vocals pick up it sounds amazing! A truely spectacular moment, followed by a really amazing guitar to link it together as it then starts to build back up. A brilliant piece of music.

This album has some looming basslines and the guitars are played with violin bows to get that effect. The sound they get is very reminiscent of "The Dead Flag Blues", from Godspeed You Black Emperor's debut, this is most noticable on the second track of this album.

Other amazing tracks are the title track which offers some amazing melodic string work and atmosphere. "Bamm Bamm Bamm" is very different to the others, adding more upbeat work to the album. tracks 4 and 5 deserve honourable mentions as these continue to build up one incredible album. "Agaetis Byrjun" is definetly in my list of landmark post rock albums along with "F#A#oo" and "Skinny Fists" by GYBE!, as well as "Born Into Trouble..." by A SILVER MT ZION.

The whole album follows a warm and spectacular journey with great vocal and orchestral work. It doesn't matter if you can't understand Hopelandic because the tones of the vocals themselves is what make their music work best. I highly recommend any fans of post rock, experimental music to check these out. If you aren't into this genre its still worth getting as it would appeal to fans of symphonic rock. This will leave any listener with a warm feeling as it really is something incredibly unique and touching. Try and get your hands on this album and its follow up album, "( )".

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Send comments to frenchie (BETA) | Report this review (#34520) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 02, 2005

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Sigur Rós plays a strange sort of psychedelic New Age-y minimalist rock that was a natural extension of some of the more creative moments of the mid-90s Britpop "movement". Obviously influenced by Pink Floyd, they cover the same ground (at various different times) as contemporaries Air, Portishead, The Verve and Spiritualized, although Sigur Rós is probably the least song based of the lot.

Most of the tracks on Ágćtis Byrjun run from between 7-10 mins, and there is a strong, sweeping feel that can overwhelm you when you are listening to the album. The lack of vocal hooks and luxuries such as instrumental solos may make it hard to differentiate between the various tracks, and the fact that Jónsi Birgisson's high-pitched vocals are sung in a made-up language called Hopelandish (not that I think singing in their native Icelandic would have made Sigur Rós any more accessible) doesn't help either. But somehow it doesn't seem to matter.

Ágćtis Byrjun is widely considered to be the best album Sigur Rós made and there are lots of beautiful melancholy moments lurking around this seamless work. I particularly like the string-heavy Starálfur and the strangely euphoric Olsen Olsen (replete with choir!) as well as the darker pieces Flugufrelsarinn and Hjartaő Hamast (Bamm Bamm Bamm) , but none of the tracks are weak. Still, I must say that while I know many people who love this album, Sigur Rós' music isn't exactly what I look for in a prog band. ... 62% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#34521) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 09, 2005

Review by Yanns
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars As I listened to this album more and more, I came to the undeniable conclusion that this is a five-star masterpiece album. From the first time I put on Svefn-g-englar, I knew this was certainly something different. A parallel I made at first was to Pink Floyd, but on further listening, I realized that they couldn't be compared. Sigur Ros has their completely own, unique style, and comparing them to any group, any person, is unjust. This album is something that must be heard to be believed, because words do not express the feelings one derives from merely listening to this album.

Beauty like you've never imagined before. However, it isn't beauty like you may hear in songs like I Talk To The Wind or Epitaph from King Crimson's debut. Its beauty in a completely different way, while delivering just as strong a punch.

From the moment I put on the first song (just accepted as (Intro), seeing as it wasn't given a name), I fade into another world. It succeeds in doing an extraordinary thing, something that not many pieces of music can do. It makes me forget everything. It takes me somewhere else. Somewhere where things of this material world do not matter. It's a wonderful place.

Some people have said that this would be the kind of music played as they marched into the Gates of Heaven. Definitely understandable. Listenings to this album will show you this. Again, I can not put into words properly everything I want to express.

Also, this band is classified under Experimental/Post-rock. I do not disagree with this categorization. However, this might put an idea in your head about the band. You might be comparing them to bands like Radiohead and The Mars Volta, which are also in this genre. Forget all comparisons, forget everything you may be thinking. This is completely different from those bands. Completely. I do not argue the classification because there is no other place to put them. They are truly experimental, seeing as no one else has ever done or achieved anything like this before.

Some standouts: Every song. Ha, yes, I'm serious. I can't single out a song or two or three as weaker than the rest. I could name every song and rant and rave about it for extremely long periods of time. Simply put, this album is an 70 minutes of incredible, shattering the rules of music, much like The Mars Volta has done, only in a much, much different way.

I challenge every single person reading this, male or female, black or white, young or old, stupid or smart, to give this album a listen. And then another. And another. And then see what you think. I have no remorse, doubt, or problems with giving this a masterpiece rating. 5/5.

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Send comments to Yanns (BETA) | Report this review (#44641) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2005

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Judging from the number of reviews posted about them here at Prog Archives, I'm obviously not the first person to fall so completely under the spell of this otherworldly Icelandic band. And there are plenty of other, already well-established fans who could tell you a lot more about them than I ever could. A week ago I barely recognized their name; as recent as yesterday I had not heard a note of their music. But now I offer, for your amusement and/or instruction, my first impression of SIGUR RÓS, gleaned from one initial spin of what looks like their most popular album to date.

I still can't tell you a thing about the track list or personnel: the CD I borrowed (from a very forward-thinking but typically cash-challenged Erie County library system) is missing its booklet. So all I have to work with is a Xerox reproduction of the spooky cover art (the embryonic winged infant looking like a cross between Stanley Kubrick's 2001 star child and the twisted thing in David Lynch's "Eraserhead"), and of course the music itself.

And what music it is. Brooding, melancholy post-rock dirges, with sheets of processed guitars churning like slowly cooling magma underneath a lot of subtle, ENO-influenced ambient synthesizers, and with a restrained but powerful rhythm section adding a measure of heat to the sub-arctic chill of each song.

One beautiful moment follows another for a generous 71+ minutes, and the whole thing moves like a slowly advancing glacier of psychedelic Scandinavian sound, saturated in reverb and conjuring images of Iceland's stark, uncompromising natural beauty. That feeling is only enhanced by the breathy, evocative vocals, to the groups lasting credit sung in their native tongue (no Anglo-American cultural imperialism at work here).

The extensive studio manipulation is reminiscent of RADIOHEAD's weirder sonic excursions off the mainstream rock 'n' roll path. The opening introduction (which I now understand is simply titled "Intro") in particular is a pitch-perfect, affectionate plagiarism of "Everything in its Right Place", backwards singing and all. Elsewhere the album hints at the stately Prog adagios of Landberk circa "Indian Summer" (I'm thinking here mostly of the simple but always elegant drum work), and at darker local influences too obscure to identify.

The music demands a patient set of ears, and works best when listened to in its entirety, late at night alone in a darkened room (headphones are optional).

It's always a thrill to discover uncharted musical territory for the first time. And after only one brief exposure to a single album, I'm ready to pack my bags and begin exploring the SIGUR RÓS sound more deeply.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#49738) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 02, 2005

Review by Carl floyd fan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another incredible album by the folks known as sigur ros. This is a more upbeat album than ( ) and again, largely instrumental. I have the same complaint as ( ), the buildups last a little to long, tending to transition to nothing in particular at times and the climaxs (this is post rock after all) are short lived. The vocals are just as lovely as ever and a made up language. What they mean we may never know but hopefully they aren't evil. The musicain ship is top notch and quite unique as well. No one else sounds like these guys...or should I say, Sigur ros doesn't sound like anything that came before them in the world of music. A 4.25 effort.

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Send comments to Carl floyd fan (BETA) | Report this review (#64604) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 13, 2006

Review by GoldenSpiral
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After careful consideration, this album is definitely recommended to all progressive rock fans. Sigur Ros are the poster boys for the post-rock movement, and this album is their crowning acheivement. The music is more diverse than their previeous efforts, but still true to their sound. What sound is that? If I were to review this album in one word, that word would be "lush". Thick orchestration, diverse instrumentation, plenty of atmosphere, an overall very rich sound. Don't look for anything technical, but musical innovation abounds. Also, the vocals come from one of the most unique singers in modern rock music. His voice is perfectly emotive, so much so that you need not understand a single word of icelandic to know exactly what he's trying to get across. While the record is ambient in nature, the melodies are so beautiful and strong that they still manage to hold attention firmly. At times it is difficult to believe that the sounds are being made by a rock band. The stand-out tracks on this album include #3, 4, and 8 (I'll refrain from trying to type out the actual icelandic titles). So, this is without doubt for me a five star album that should be experienced by one and all, regardless of their pre-disposition toward post-rock or ambient music.

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Send comments to GoldenSpiral (BETA) | Report this review (#84162) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Review by Zitro
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

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#88005) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Review by Australian
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Ágćtis Byrjun"is yet another otherworldly album from one of the leaders in Post-Rock. The feeling of otherworldliness is stronger here than in any other album from Sigur Rós, I guess its because the use of strings is more prominent in "Ágćtis Byrjun" than any Sigur Rós album yet. The presence of the strings, guitar played with a cello bow as well as the misty keyboard sounds and twinkling percussion here and there conjures a floating, beautiful atmosphere which few bands can produce. It is for this reason that "Ágćtis Byrjun"is such an efficient, moving album and to this day remains Sigur Rós' defining album.

The musical feeling of "Ágćtis Byrjun "captures the spirit of some of "Tales From Topographic Ocean" (by Yes) for me, while not being quite as good. Also the fact that all the vocals on "Ágćtis Byrjun" are sung in Icelandic adds another element of otherworldliness, as I am left wondering what the lyrics mean. The vocals are usually repetitious with the same words being repeated several times, with instrumental interludes. Basically all of Sigur Rós' stuff follows this pattern; I have to admit that it does sometimes get rather annoying.

The most rewarding material on "Ágćtis Byrjun" is "Starálfur","Svefn-G- Engla"r, "Ágaetis Byrjun","Avalon" all of which display the same characterizes. That said the true stand out for me is "Starálfur"which was used in Wes Andersons' fantastic film "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" at the climax of the movie. None of the material on "Ágćtis Byrjun"is disappointing, what I love about this band is that when they release an album, everything on it is at a high standard. Even 'Von' wasn't too bad, it just didn't have as full a sound as following albums and the compositions where a bit weak.

"Ágćtis Byrjun"has been voted the best 20th cent. album by an Icelandic band, that is a great achievement. I don't know much about Icelandic music but I do know that "Ágćtis Byrjun"is some good quality music. The album reached a top charting of 52 in the UK (far below Takk) and set the scene for the band's following works. From the Thunderous soundscapes to the mellow string instrumental sections "Ágćtis Byrjun" is highly enjoyable. The one thing I don't understand are the angel-fetus creatures on the cover and in the CD booklet, what are they supposed to be?

"Ágćtis Byrjun" is a very rewarding album if listened to under proper circumstances. One day when your alone, and you have a good pair of headphones handy take a good long listen and soak in all the goodness of this album. A very good album and truly deserving to be considered among the most amazing Post-Rock albums ever. I'd recommend "Ágćtis Byrjun"to any fan of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or anything similar. I'd also like to say to everyone that "Ágćtis Byrjun" is a very interesting listen and.come on, try something different.

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Send comments to Australian (BETA) | Report this review (#91106) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 22, 2006

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The title of this album apparently means "A good beginning" and this really is the record that made them famous. So much emotion and atmosphere on this recording. Very powerful.

"Intro" is spacey with vocals then it turns very atmospheric and blends into "Svefn-G-Englar" where the sound is so mighty that it almost vibrates. Guitar 1 1/2 minutes in is monstrous. Vocals after 2 minutes. Drums are more prominant after 6 minutes then violin. "Staralfur" opens softly and builds with piano and strings. Vocals before a minute. Pure emotion 2 1/2 minutes in. Some brief acoustic guitar and reserved vocals then back to previous melody. Classical music 4 1/2 minutes in. Themes are repeated and then it gets experimental after 6 minutes. "Flugu Frelsarinn" sounds so good with that powerful undercurrent. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. Great track ! "Ny Batteri" is minimalistic with horns coming and going until we start to get a melody around 2 minutes.Vocals follow.This is very laid back but I really like it. Lots of atmosphere. It kicks into a higher gear before 5 1/2 minutes with drums. Horns are back a minute later as it calms back down.

"Hjartao Hamast (Bamm Bamm Bamm)" opens with piano and harmonica. This is SIGUR ROS ? A fuller sound before a minute followed by vocals. Some back up vocals on this one as well. An interesting song. I like the experimentation 6 1/2 minutes in to the end. "Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa" opens with feedback and other sounds. Piano after a minute and it builds. Strings after 3 minutes and it gets spacey. Vocals 5 minutes in. It settles after 7 minutes then builds to an emotional and powerful soundscape 8 minutes in. Some dissonance late. "Olsen Olsen" opens with vocal melodies that sound far off. Drums and a fairly deep soundscape take over. Vocal melodies are back. This all sounds so amazing. So rich and full. "Agaetis Byrjun" is uplifting to start. Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. "Avalon" is 4 minutes of spacey sounds.

I personally feel that SIGUR ROS improved upon this album with "( )" and "Takk" but this is the foundation, and many feel this is their best. It's hard to argue against that.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#93212) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Review by TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Considered, by many rock reviews, as one of the most acomplished rock albuns ever made, i can not agree more with it. The album is completely different, taking the listener to new boundaries, transporting to the dreamy-pop atmospheres of nowhere, or perhaps, to the freezing celestial nature of Iceland, home country of the band.

This could be made possible by the extreme intelligence of the band on using their respective instruments. The combination of Kjartan Sveinsson inspirate dreamy creations, with the Jónsi Birgisson cutting-tearing guitar, not forgetting to mention the celestial aspect of his voice, and the surreal bass lines of Georg Holm, allied with varied orchestration all through the album, from violins, percussion to saxo, all of them seem to be made to elicit the complete magnitude of the magical and surreal aspects of music. Here and there, if we want to be perfectionists, whe can find ocasionally some immature studio arrangements, but not enough to touch the symphonic magnificiency of the album. Particularly high point of this album is the musical moment from track 6 to 8, with no weak points, showing an almost "above-human" sensibility.

When everyone questions where rock can take us more, if there is much more space to discover, Sigur Rós proved everyone with this album that new boundaries for rock are possible, even more heartbreaking and intriguing. Evolution is at the corner, rock is not dead!

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Posted Saturday, December 16, 2006

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Do you remember your first Sigur Ros experience? I do. It was characterized by thoughts such as "get to the point" and "her voice is kinda annoying after awhile".

I am so happy I kept at it. My last few years with Ágćtis Byrjun have been bliss. I get shivers from the first few harmonized vocals of "Intro" and the wonder and respect continue through the remainder (though I must admit that the slowed-down rehash that is "Avalon" is more or less optional).

If you have no experience with Sigur Rod, or Post-Rock in general, expect atmospheric washes of organic sounds at a deliberate (one might say glacial) pace. However, background music it ain't; intensely emotional, the depth of the songs are belied by an apparent simplicity and restraint. While you don't get the socio-political sound sculptures of GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR and A SILVER MT. ZION, or the (relatively) heavier rock buildups common to MOGWAI, you do get a more defined and personal sound identity. The Hopelandish lyrics place the vocals into almost intrumental space; translations add but a fractional enhancement to the full emotive capacity. The near redundancy of the refrain to "Svefn-G-Englar" completely fails to grate like it used to, and I'm even almost over the embarrasment of discovering that the singer is male.

Ágćtis Byrjun is by no means all airy-fairy sweetness and light; though the overall feel is one of floaty serenity, there's an undercurrent of urgent intensity that especially comes to the fore in "Ny Batteri" and "Hjartaő Hamast". At times, Jonsi seems on the verge of despair; at others, such as "Flugufrelsarinn", there's a creeping, insidious quality that appeals as much to my gothic sensibilities as do the more common hints of mournfulness or melancholy. It is precisely complexities and contrasts of this nature that keep Sigur Ros from being lumped in with banal New Age or Head Music comparisons.

Ágćtis Byrjun features more symphonic texture than other Sigur Ros releases, which leads to such delights as the soaring, heartbreaking "Starálfur" and the triumphant finale to "Olsen Olsen", which adds a hint of playfulness in its brassy Nordic fanfare. Still, much of the album is built around the heavily reverbed bowed guitar and breathy, compressed vocals of Jónsi. If these don't do it for you, none of the other (slightly more experimental) albums by the band are going to win you over either.

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Posted Saturday, March 17, 2007

Review by OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Emo is not emotional. This is.

In the band's finest offering so far, Agaetis Byrjun is a compelling album with soft textures, atmospheric qualities, and despite its tortoise like speed, proves that slow and steady really does win the race. This is an astounding achievement in the field, and despite the lack of followable vocals, proves that the bands ability to craft a variety of gripping soundscapes makes it a leader of the genre.

What makes the music so great is its ability to capture the human spirit, the emotions deep within us, all while using a minimalistic approach is quite inspiring. There is actually very little "rock" here. Do not expect any blues-based riffage or awe-inspiring melodies. The keys here are texture and atmosphere, timbre, to create the sound and the experience. Sigur Ros's Agaetis Byrjun is as much a listening experience as it is a visual one. The star track for me is the 2nd one, which I would not even attempt to pronounce for fear of humility.

Many would like to claim the prog has lost its passion, that its soulless technical music. I would like to offer this piece as a counter to these claims, that prog has never been about technical virtuosity, though it has always been more present in prog than in contemporary rock. Prog is about substance over style, about art over image. Agaetis Byrjun is a triumph in this regard.

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Posted Sunday, April 08, 2007

Review by obiter
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Etheral

A truly great ambient experimental work which is balanced and beautifully paced. A superb and unique sound with a fabulous mix of distinctive vocal, tempered mellow bass, brushes on the drums, and synth with plenty of strings.

Balancing and softening the experimental aspect to the music is the retention of familiar rhythms through subtle bass (Ny Batteri) and drums (Flugufrelsarinn) which serve to ease the listener gently into the amazing world of Sigur Ros.

There are suprises: hjartad hamast has a simple repeating bass riff over which there is a doleful whispered vocal. Vidrar returns to the bleak ambient sound before keyboard and bass combine in a pleasant romantic vein backed by strings.

it's hard to imagine my collection without this album: thoroughly recommended for all.

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Posted Thursday, September 27, 2007

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Incomparably beautiful music from what is, in my opinion, the finest post-rock band around, featuring a lush symphony of unique, elegant sounds which spoil the senses in a one-of-a-kind experience. There is so much to enjoy-- much of which will no doubt vary from person to person, given the intimate nature of the music-- that it belabors the point of describing it, suffice to say that each listener will be transported to an airy, powerful, sometimes dark and brooding world of their mind's own fabrication.

The ambiguity, both in gender and in meaning, of Birgisson's seraphic voice is utterly memorable, as is the unique sound of his guitar. There is nothing quite like the textures and emotive power of Sigor Ros' music, and Agaetis Byrjun is the perfect place to discover them.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

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Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007

Review by Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Call it a blasphemy, a blindness or whatever, but I see little difference between SR's debut and AB. They even follow the same scheme (intro ambiences for 15 minutes or so - couple of songs - long ambience in the middle - couple of songs again, including the eponymous one). Yep, they've matured in songwriting. Yeah, there are some nice melodies and enjoyable tunes, but for me AB says nothing really - apart from almost excellent ( ) and enjoyable ''Takk...''. But hey, could the eponymous track be a bit shorter? I'd definitely enjoy it better. Anyway, while ''Von'' represented dark side of SR and had 1.5 from me (rounded to 2), AB gets 2.5 for its lighter side ...but again rounded to 2 due to massive disappointment - I thought this is really a Masterpiece, but I got the same stuff again, a little re-worked and improved though. If you're a SR newbie, begin with ''Heima'' DVD or ( ) to know SR from a better side

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Posted Monday, December 31, 2007

Review by Dim
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Sigur ros is one of those bands that sadly falls into the category of great band, but doesnt have the masterpiece album, like Isis, or porcupine tree. Obviously, I'm in the minority of of people who think that, considering the album is the #1 album of our post rock/math rock sub genre. My belief on the idea behind the music of Sigur ros is that they take the imperfections of the many instruments they play, and the falsetto Icelandic vocals, and make it into something beautiful, and they do an extraordinary job of it. The music of sigur ros is, and will always be some of the most beautiful of our time, this album is no exception, but I feel that unlike ( ), They put the most beautiful/easy listening songs at the front, and the more experimental stuff towards the end, on a 70 minute long album, that is almost impossible to make a five star album with.

With the famed Svefn-G-Englar opening after the intro song, you are set up for quite the treat. With it's mesmerizing e-bowed guitar and almost anthemic chorus, the song could almost be considered an epic. Don't be fooled though, that's not what the albums comprised of, soon to come, are beautiful string songs, up toned horn songs, and even quirky bluesy songs. Through all this though, the album is dominated by a melancholic feel, and a sleepy atmosphere. At first listen, the album is quite a chore to get through completely without either falling asleep, or just needing to break up the monotony with another disc. It will break into you over time though, even if it doesnt come full circle, songs like staralfur and Olsen Olsen are sure to be absolute musts in your post rock archiving.

I really do enjoy this album, but like I said, it's song placement led to it's three star making. The last four songs all carry the same mood/atmosphere, and song structure, though they are great songs, placing them all in one big clump in an hour+ album is not the way to make THE post rock masterpiece. If you are more of a song person rather than album person, you will love this album, no questions asked, every song has one part that makes you lean back open jawed in amazement. I'm an album person though, and as far as album making goes, execution of song place is key, Aegetis Byrjurn didn't quite execute.

3 stars

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Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Moderator / Psych Team
4 stars As I should say in a tiny phrase, Really incomplete wave and atmosphere of music. At first the sleeve of the album knocked me out (to tell the truth, this is the second album that I saw the front face and at once bought without listening to the content). The monotone sleeve gave me massive imagination and feeling...And once I put this album on the turntable, it made me feel like turning together. What feeling!? Mysterious transmigration of the soul and body The album always brings me such a feeling. The atmosphere is fuzzy and floating, and caught me tightly and rigidly. This unexperienced sound and beat, after the play finished, might let us weep calmly, and might let us replay the album again and again...

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Posted Monday, December 01, 2008

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ágćtis Byrjun is the second full-length studio album by Islandic experimental/ post rock act Sigur Ros ( not counting the remix album Von Brigđi (1998)). Listening to the first two albums by the band has not been an easy experience for me. The repetitive ambient sound experiments on Von (1997) and the remixes of those experiments on Von Brigđi) really didn´t strike a note with me. Ágćtis Byrjun is fortunately a very different album compared to its predecessors and my interest was immediately ignited when I listened to the first song after the intro.

The music on Ágćtis Byrjun is ambient, atmospheric, melancholic and above all beautiful. As opposed to the ambient soundscapes of their debut album this album features more regular drums and therefore it has more of a rock ( very soft, ambient rock) feeling to it. I´m often reminded of the melancholy of Radiohead which is probably due to Jónsi Birgisson´s vocal style which at times isn´t far from Thom Yorke´s ditto ( especially in the songs Starálfur, Flugufrelsarinn and Ágćtis Byrjun). Most of the time his style is more high pitched and atmospheric though. Another influence is probably Talk Talk. Listen to the first couple of minutes of minimalistic organic sounds in Ný Batterí for reference. I´m also reminded of the somewhat monotenous alternative rock/ noise rock of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, but it´s mostly because of the moods in the music and the walls of noisy yet melodic sound that Sigur Ros produce in some songs on Ágćtis Byrjun. The album is overall very consistent and the 71:51 minutes go by like a dream. It´s very seldom any album can entertain me for that long. Songs like Svefn-G-Englar, Ný Batterí, Hjartaő Hamast (Bamm Bamm Bamm) and Viőrar Vel Til Loftárasa are simply wonderful to my ears. Olsen Olsen is also special to me with its symphonic ending. In addition to normal rock instrumentation there´s also lots of strings on the album which gives the music an great organic touch.

The musicianship is excellent. Jónsi Birgisson´s vocals are extremely emotional and even though I understand little of the Icelandic lyrics it´s easy to embrace the melancholic mood in the music. The music is generally not technically complicated, but creating beautiful and meaningful soundscapes that someone like me ( who is normally way too busy to enjoy slow and ambient music) can appreciate is quite the achivement.

The production is excellent. Warm when it needs to be but also crystal clear and cold when that is needed. The sound suits the music very well.

Ágćtis Byrjun is my first positive meeting with Sigur Ros music but I´m certainly gonna search out the rest of their discography after listening to this album. This one´s a winner in my book and close to a 5 star rating. 4 stars will do for now, but I might return with a re-evalution some time in the future because Ágćtis Byrjun seems to keep growing on me for every new listen. Highly recommendable to fans of melancholic atmospheric music.

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Posted Monday, March 09, 2009

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars I never thought that post rock from Iceland could be this uplifting while still maintaining a decent level of challenge! Ágćtis Byrjun features many stand-out compositions like the wonderful 10-minute chill-out anthem Svefn-G-Englar and my personal favorite Ný Batterí which, just like UMUR pointed out in his review, starts off with a definite nod at Talk Talk's two final studio albums.

The best thing about this release is that its incredibly smooth and by that I mean it offers a great feeling of the overall theme without a single lesser or dull moment. This 70+ minute album of music just flows by and it's easy to get absorbed by the who experience.

If you haven't heard it then please do because it's not often you'll get to to hear such a solid album! My only possible reason for not going all the way and rating it as essential is quite personal. Simply put it's not an album I can pick on just any day and listen to without being in a certain relaxed state of mind to begin with. So Ágćtis Byrjun gets a definite 4+ from me and I hope to hear more from this exciting band!

***** star songs: Svefn-G-Englar (10:04) Starálfur (6:46) Ný Batterí (8:10) Olsen Olsen (8:03)

**** star songs: Intro (1:36) Flugufrelsarinn (7:48) Hjartaő Hamast (7:10) Viőrar Vel Til Loftárasa (10:17) Ágaetis Byrjun (7:55) Avalon (4:02)

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Posted Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There were moments in this album that made me wanna cry. Albums this original and this moving are rare nowadays. I'm not too familiar with post rock, but what I've heard so far was fantastic. AB brings you into another world, a beautiful and peaceful one(not many dark or creepy moments here), an incredibly light and ethereal album that makes the listener feel like he has just reached the gates of heaven. Therefore a happy album, different from the creepy, tense and anxious atmospheres that reign in Godspeed you! Black emperors album " F#A# infinity". I could easily say that this is one of the best albums of the nineties and one of the very best of the whole post rock genre. An essential masterpiece for anybody who loves music.

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Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Without doubt Sigur Ros best work. Ambient aerial liquid down tempo sound with deep roots in Talk Talk later experimental albums. Great female vocals, with some The Cranberries echoes in its. Absolute Nordic atmosphere, only the best bands from area can build such authentically (not only in post-rock, same in Nordic jazz and fusion). Long compositions, some folksy flavours and plenty of electronics which never sound as synthetic electronics.

Too different album from what we expect from great prog albums. Easy accessible, but not always truly accepted. Simple and important as cornerstone of new sound. Post rock was exploded and burned very fast, but till now myriads of post-rock bands sound "as Sigur Ros".

And I prefer such, Nordic post-rock gene against loudly twin-guitars driven American one. Because there in Sigur Ros music you can hear all spacey Pink Floyd legacy and ambient Fripp legacy, and Nordic ECM minimalistic aerial jazz of Jan Garbarek. In fact, this Sigur Ros album is their concentrated sound which will stay in history as Nordic post-rock example. And it's not such a small thing...

Near all these importance and influences, this album is real pleasant to listen. Dreamy atmospheric one - listen it, and if you're not a big fan of post-rock, you just will need a very few more albums to know what post rock is all about.

My rating is 4+

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Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars The second album from this Icelandic band is one of the more popular post-rock albums. Next to Mogwai and GYBE, Sigur Ros are probably the most influential post-rock group. They sing in their own made up language called Hopelandic. I don't see what the point is as most non- Scandinavians probably think they are singing in Icelandic anyway. The vocals generally sound like some kind of Bjork/Thom Yorke hybrid. I can hear influence from 1990s alternative rock on this album. I haven't heard the debut yet but those influences are supposed to be even greater there. The songs are generally long and don't change much throughout their duration. Although this is a band with typical instrumentation, the presence of string and wind instruments seems to stand out a lot of the time.

The album starts with a spacey intro with lots of backwards effects. This leads directly into "Svefn-G-Englar." I guess you could desribe this as ambient-rock. I like the change after 6 minutes, very Floyd sounding. "Staralfur" sounds influential to some later post-rock. The piano part sounds like U2 and also sounds similar to some of the piano playing you would hear later with bands like Muse and Coldplay. "Ny Batteri" begins with some random noises from different instruments. Gets more atmospheric and a bassline starts. Vocals join in. Halfway some awesome sounding drums come in.

"Hjartao Hamast" has an awesome electric piano sound (Wurlitzer?) and some harmonica. Jazzy drumming and some atmospheric, feedback-y guitar. Sounds like upright bass is being used. Some great ethereal singing here, backed by symphonic strings. "Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa" reminds me of Floyd's "Great Gig In The Sky," except there is strings instead and no female vocals. Gets more Radiohead sounding when the vocals enter. The ending reminds me of Sgt. Peppers. "Olsen Olsen" has a very post-rocky bassline that wouldn't sound out of place on a Mogwai or Tortoise album. More child-like ethereal vocals. Nice flute parts in this song. Some "la-la" harmony vocals. "Avalon" is a atmospheric, moody instrumental. Nice way to end the album.

I was never a big fan of this group, nothing they did ever really grabbed my attention. I haven't heard all of their albums, but I enjoy this one the most of the ones I have. I've heard better post- rock and I've heard worse post-rock. I would give this a 3.5 but can't push myself to give it 4 stars. 3 stars then.

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Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Sigur Ros' music has always been from another planet for me. And I'm afraid I'm a bit too much down to earth to understand or appreciate this kind of music. PA's guidelines expect us to remain civilized and respectful to the bands we review so I will do my very best here. Of course I could have stayed away from this band (or even the entire sub genre to be honest) but as I stated before I feel a prog reviewer has to reveal where he or she stands with all kinds of prog. So here we go.

The short intro has nothing to offer so that's already a downside. Svefn-G-Englar was the track that gave me the shivers (but not down the spine really) first time I listened to it. Besides the fact it sounds pretty creepy I also noticed it gets repetitive halfway. The song drags on for too long and the useless fade out last minute doesn't help either. After six minutes suddenly Radiohead comes barging in it seems but since I'm not a big fan of them either it's another minus for this first (real) song. Next up is the highly praised Starálfur and I have to say it's indeed one of the better on this supposed masterpiece. The vocals are less annoying and the melody is dreamy and somewhat captivating. But also here a strange ending obviously was needed to make the song more special. Flugulfrelsarinn goes on in the same vein but sounds a lot more boring to me. Ný Batterí opens with weakish flute and other wind instruments. Creepy keysounds give the impression the trip in outer space continues. I can't get used to the vocals either. Jonsi's voice is probably meant to mesmerize the fans but I'm afraid it doesn't work with me. Well, I will not go into the whole album. The tone is set, both by Sigur Ros as by me and I fear we will not be a match at any moment in time.

Leaves the final rating as a bit of a problem. Somehow I can hear this is a bit of a special album, that is if I try to be as open minded as possible. But this band's music is so extremely far away from my musical taste and interest that two stars is the very maximum I can do (1,5). Unfortunately I have many more albums from this band because they were for sale here at that moment so I don't exclude the possibility I will review more of their albums. I hope for the band I will not and actually I hope for myself the same ...

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Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sigur Ros' second proper album (not counting the preceding remix album) finds the band hitting on their distinctive style - a blend of majestic post-rock and ethereal vocals inspired by the gorgeous work of the Cocteau Twins, which comes together to create the cold, shimmering soundscapes collected on this release. Leaning more on synthesisers and crystal-clear studio production than Mogwai or Godspeed You Black Emperor, the other two giants of post-rock in 1999, the band create a sonic approach which at points could do with a little polishing but otherwise presents a marvellous musical voyage. Recommended for all post-rock fans and for anyone interested in beginning to explore the genre.

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Posted Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
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.

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Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars The sounds of wind, water and light.

Having dipped my toes in the world of post-rock on numerous occasions with a feeling of nothing more than mild and polite admiration of both the musicianship and general ideas behind it, it is really rather nice that the first experience is the only one I keep coming back to. Sigur Ros and more specifically Ágaetis Byrjun: an album of meticulous, yet unkempt beauty that lifts you up and takes you away on a lovely journey for as long as you allow yourself to be spellbound by it.

Being rather eclectic if you delve a bit deeper into the songs, it is first and and foremost a supreme tour-de-force in building and cherishing atmosphere, regardless of the methods used to get there. Despite a lot of detail and at times rather busy arrangements, what stays with me is a sense of space and a lot of room to breathe. A cool and breezy morning by the sea. The air still fresh from the rain during the night, with glimpses of light appearing here and there under the sullen, departing clouds. One reviewer described it as Nordic. Being Nordic myself, I can somewhat relate to that, however unspecific it may be, even though I would describe the feel of the album as something more universal.

Slow-to-glacial, cottony rhythmic foundation serves as the bedrock upon which soothing, gently swirling layers of ambient, moody keys and guitar make up much of the main structures, quietly painting a shifting soundscape of pale, refreshing colours. These are in turn lovingly adorned by crisp, clear and often a bit sparse (almost percussive) melodic details from a distant guitar lick and the odd, high-pitched piano/e-piano notes. Undercurrents of bass, warm horns (or is it woodwind?) and other goodies quietly pass by beneath. And out of the blue a sudden or gradual build-up of forceful, noisy and ringing guitar shoots out of the layered soundscape like a mountaintop. Awe-inspiring.

Sometimes it turns into a busier, more orchestral affair, again with strings, horns and piano sticking out as more defining features, in often (tastefully) bombastic and uplifting crescendos, where the sounds of the instruments seems to rise upwards - blending the cheerfully melancholic with the painful smile - in a sort of dancing motion that I find damn near irresistible.

Then there is the more familiar rock structures that, while slowed-down and very atmospheric, brings up the drums and bass from the back of the mix adding points of anchorage and a bit of meat to the often floating, fluffy structures on Ágaetis Byrjun. There are a few instances where things even get a bit jazzy, rhythmically speaking. The wall-of-sound-using-especially-guitar-trick that seems to be a defining part of the sub-genre make some appearances now and then, but it is never allowed to dominate, but rather accentuates and act as a form of dynamic catalyst. To great effect, I might add.

Like a smoke or a mist over this invigorating mix floats vocalist Jónsi's mellow, otherworldly and very expressive vocals, further enhanced by a touch of effects. In spite of (or perhaps because of) never reaching for proper emotional extremes in his delivery, they blend exquisitely with the music and feel all the more meaningful and integrated with the album as a whole.

What still strikes me as the biggest feat here is how the album comes together as a harmonious whole. So rich and crafted and yet so free in form and structure, so naturally evolving... It is a very uplifting experience. Happy or cheerful are not the right words, as it is a bit too reflective and cerebral for those two. It has more to do with a strange sense of spiritual peace and purpose the album is simply overflowing with. A quiet, cleansing everyday joy that bubbles just beneath the surface.

Rooted in something familiar and earthbound, expressed through sounds that fly a lot higher.

4 stars.

//LinusW

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Send comments to LinusW (BETA) | Report this review (#777332) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012

Review by siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After a mostly ambient debut release SIGUR ROS evolved their sound to incorporate aspects of dream pop, chamber music, orchestral classical and post-rock and in the process ended up creating a unique new type of music that would become a huge world-wide sensation. On "Ágćtis Byrjun" we get a strange eerie, ethereal flow of sounds that really makes me think of the vast Icelandic landscapes with lifeless volcanic lava flows and drifting glaciers frosting the mountainous terrain. A music that originates from the steaming pots of boiling earthen cauldrons that flow on in a geological time frame and one that requires a calm and serene and even meditative state of mind to encompass.

This music isn't quite rock although it has aspects of post-rock. We don't get any seriously energetic drum playing until track five on 'N' batter' and it rarely shows up afterwards. It isn't quite classical, yet it is superbly orchestrated and violin, piano and bowed guitar playing are aplenty throughout the album. It feels closer to dream pop, but the compositions are too complex to be considered pop, so this could be in fact a new category of something like dream symphonic post-rock or something of the sort.

The lyrics are sung in both their native Icelandic as well as their artificial language Vonlenska which is similar to the nonsensical language used by the Cocteau Twins created to de-emphasize any lyrical meanings and simply use the voice as yet another instrument. No matter which language is used the result is an alienating yet peaceful declaration of some kind of musical celebration. At times it feels like this music may have even been inspired by whale songs and at other times the progressive electronic meanderings of groups like Tangerine Dream.

The album begins with a backmasking effect followed by a kind of volcanic rumbling setting the stage for a kind of slow and dripping percussion sound accompanied by an organ. This is an invitation for a the addition of more instruments to find a niche on this musical landscape and slowly they creep in and out with the angelic falsetto vocals of Jónsi Birgisson finally hitting the stage to lead the eerie orchestration through the sonic wilderness that sounds fragile and haunting. The whole thing reminds me of how life on Earth evolves. How it springs forth from a certain origin and then separates, adapts and finally thriving in a hitherto unexploited niche. SIGUR ROS does just that in their music where certain instruments take advantage of certain musical niches in the larger musical ecosystem that hadn't yet been discovered in popular music.

This is an album that took me a while to warm up to. Being attracted firstly to fast, heavy and eclectic music, I had to divorce myself from any musical expectations and just sit back and be patient and let the music steer me while I let SIGUR ROS do the driving which is never about rushing from point A to point B but rather savoring all the distances in between and in the process able to flesh out possibilities on the sonicscape that are more often than not ignored by other styles of music that put the emphasize elsewhere. After taking the time to adapt to this strange spectral soundscape I am astounded that the music perfectly resembles the cold, harsh and somewhat detached feel of the vast Icelandic landscapes and even more surprised that the beauty of the music like that of the cold and desolate parts of the planet contain untold beauty that is not immediately apparent yet accessible for anyone to enjoy after a slight expectational adjustment.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1139198) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 27, 2014

Latest members reviews

2 stars Sometimes prog music doesn't give you nice experiences and Sigur Rós' record Ágaetis Byrjun was such an experience. I am sorry but it was long time ago I heard such boring sounds. I am almost upset so I won't spend som much time with time review. Spaced music can be really interesting with con ... (read more)

Report this review (#985624) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Ágaetis byrjun" is the quintessential post-rock album. Ignore "Skinny Fists" and "F# A# infinity", this is the real deal. I can't quite bring myself to call this a 5-star album. Despite its overall excellence in consistency and adventurousness, it's not quite progressive in enough ways for it to be ... (read more)

Report this review (#984574) | Posted by Xonty | Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is simply some of the most human music I have ever encountered. Ágćtis Byrjun was an impulse buy of mine, and probably the most fruitful impulse I have ever had. Each song delivers a sort of alien brilliance that cascades into the ear. I can't understand a lick of what they're saying, an ... (read more)

Report this review (#477984) | Posted by PorcupineThief | Thursday, July 07, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars But what a great album. Indeed "Agaete Byrjun" is a fantastic album, one of the best I've heard in recent times. The sound here is a mix of alternative rock, progressive rock and space rock. And boy, this is a mix that works. The songs are not very progressive, but they never drag on and bore ... (read more)

Report this review (#473191) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a rare treat. It is beautiful, haunting and unworldly. I've never heard anything like it. I can't help but feel obligated to share my sentiments here. I find the slow, dreamy ethereal sounds extremely soothing and calming. The tracks are laced with lush strings, atmospheric guitars and ... (read more)

Report this review (#441078) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Sunday, May 01, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This wonderful work will bring you into a magic nordic landscape; a very nice experience not only for your ears but also for your soul. The only weak point of the album is obviously its lyrics, since you won't absolutely be able to grasp the meaning of a single word if you're not from Iceland. ... (read more)

Report this review (#440766) | Posted by Avtokrat | Saturday, April 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Snobb's review says so much of what I feel about this album. I can think of very few albums in the last 20 years which feel and sound as if they come out of nowhere--are unlike anything else that came before them--are so unique that they stand out so starkly from the rest of music of the day. KARDA ... (read more)

Report this review (#328974) | Posted by BrufordFreak | Sunday, November 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It really took a while to get into this album. Like a lot of post rock, it'll be hard to truly understand upon first, second, or third listen- much effort is needed to find the beauty in this album, but the effort is certainly worth it. On one hand, the album often offers sublime, sentimental beauty ... (read more)

Report this review (#261023) | Posted by Neurotarkus | Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Play a Floyd fan track #7, "Vidrar vel til loftarasa," and for nearly 5 minutes you'll be able to easily fool him/her into believing it's an (amazing!) outtake from DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, - from the atmospheric sound effects, to the Wright-like piano, to the Gilmour-like guitar. That is, until ... (read more)

Report this review (#247755) | Posted by jude111 | Monday, November 02, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Sorry but i tryed this album many times now and yust find it very boring and unintresting, and the made up langue dont sounds very good. The songs are long but noghing intresting is goin on, Why everyone is bashing KC's Moonchild yet seem to love this i dont understand. Or maybe i shuld ask my ... (read more)

Report this review (#228481) | Posted by Zargus | Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Six months ago, I was stuck in a rut. I couldn't find new music. I was listining to the same stuff and no matter what I found, I just couldnt get into it. One day I was on e-music and was going through their top 100 albums as voted by users. Then I saw a blue album cover with a blue fetus on it ... (read more)

Report this review (#201302) | Posted by pianoman | Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I when I heard this for the first time I was actually into some very generic rock music, but this, this is something else! I had never heard something like this, I looked at this like music to fall asleep but is so much more than that, it is music to seek into your soul, music to fly; this absolutel ... (read more)

Report this review (#201201) | Posted by JTP88 | Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is maybe the best album we'll hear until the stars fall from the sky...Sigur Rós is actually the most surprising, interesting and even original band I've heard since I bought Rubber Soul, so it's really saying much at least for me. This album might be the plateau from where Sigur Rós ... (read more)

Report this review (#166020) | Posted by Herzebeth | Monday, April 07, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very incredible album. Emotionally involving yet highly instrumental. The vocals that Sigur Ros does use are used more so in an instrumental sense. A post-rock theme of using the voice as an instrument. hauntingly beautifuly yet lacking in some way. For parts of the album it seems to repeat it ... (read more)

Report this review (#165622) | Posted by shentile | Friday, April 04, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As beautiful as (). Definitely one of the most beautiful and evocative, and inventive albums ever made. Sigur Ros' masterpiece (along with () ). I especially love the two longest tracks (10 minute for each of them), and the sleeve, very mysterious, is magnificent. Really, a brilliant and magnifi ... (read more)

Report this review (#163573) | Posted by Zardoz | Sunday, March 09, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Wow, what a beautiful CD. The first time I heard it I wasn't overly impressed, but now it has grown on me and it is one of few records that me and my dad (a classical fan) can share in enjoyment. So... as for the songs. The intro just gives us a taster of what's to come and the album really kic ... (read more)

Report this review (#161701) | Posted by burtonrulez | Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I strongly doubt about a true progressive link between post-rock and prog music, but since the genre is here, I'll value this release as it is: a masterpiece of post rock. But still I doubt something else: is Sigur Ros really a post-rock band? I think not entirely, not as Mogwai, GY!BE or Explo ... (read more)

Report this review (#160812) | Posted by sircosick | Monday, February 04, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another very strong album from one of the best bands around. The grace and power in Svefn-G-Englar is beautiful, Starálfur is very intimate and my favourite is Hjartaő Hamast (Bamm Bamm Bamm) which means the beat of the heart. There are a couple of spots on the album that don't quite get there, ... (read more)

Report this review (#152795) | Posted by memark | Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If music could be seen, Agaetis Byrjun would be like heaven. Icelandic band Sigur Ros belong to a different sphere of existence. They have done things that are truly amazing. The texture of music that I found on Agaetis Byrjun drew me into a landscape of visions and dreams. At the end of my jour ... (read more)

Report this review (#151299) | Posted by anirudh | Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Probobly the most atmospheric album i've ever heard, this beautiful album by Sigur Ros is one for late, sleepless nights when you just need to stop thinkin about life and escape to an impossibly vivid "otherworld." Agaetis Byrjun was my first album by this rather minimalistic group, and prior t ... (read more)

Report this review (#142394) | Posted by therevelator | Saturday, October 06, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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