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SIGUR RÓS

Post Rock/Math rock • Iceland


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Sigur Rós biography
SIGUR RÓS was formed back in 1994 by three Icelandic young men: Jónsi Birgisson (guitar, vocals), Georg Holm (bass) and Ágúst (drums). Later joined by Kjartan Sveinsson on keyboards they began their recording career in 1997 with the album "Von" which was not released outside of Iceland until the late 2004. "Von" was followed by a remix album "Von Brigđi" in 1998 and their first masterpiece "Ágćtis Byrjun" in 1999. After the recording of "Ágćtis Byrjun", which was received with praising reviews all around the world, the drummer Ágúst left the band and was replaced by Orri Páll Dýrason. The fourth album, untitled and often referred to as "( )", was released in 2002 and was received with love and acclaim both by critics and fans. The production of the much anticipated fifth album is under way and waiting to be released some time in 2005.

With "Ágćtis Byrjun" and "( )" SIGUR RÓS have really perfected their unique sound full of space and atmosphere. Jónsi Birgisson's falsetto and the use of a cello bow to to play his guitar are the most distinct factors in creating that sound incomparable to anything any band has ever come up with. The groups closest to SIGUR RÓS in terms of feeling and atmosphere are probably GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR and MAGYAR POSSE. "Ágćtis Byrjun" is a collection of very orchestated songs with Birgisson's voice and cello-bow-played guitar flying high and far across the horizon creating a place of beauty and tranquillity. "( )" is divided into two halves, the light and the dark, the summer and the winter, or however you like to describe it. The songs are much rawer and more straight forwardly arranged than on "Ágćtis Byrjun" creating a more solid but a little narrower, yet equally as exciting experience.

The biography on the official site says it well: "It's impossible to justify it with words, you have to listen to it to understand." Go to the official site linked to on the left and download the full songs offered there. You will love it.

: : : Pekka Turunen, FINLAND : : :

Sigur Rós official website

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SIGUR RÓS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SIGUR RÓS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.46 | 91 ratings
Von
1997
2.62 | 30 ratings
Von Brigđi
1998
4.13 | 496 ratings
Ágćtis Byrjun
1999
3.00 | 1 ratings
Sigur Rós & Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson: Angels Of The Universe (OST)
2001
3.96 | 329 ratings
( )
2002
3.03 | 23 ratings
Hlemmur (OST)
2003
3.86 | 292 ratings
Takk...
2005
3.29 | 142 ratings
Međ Suđ Í Eyrum Viđ Spilum Endalaust
2008
3.15 | 113 ratings
Valtari
2012
3.67 | 93 ratings
Kveikur
2013

SIGUR RÓS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.21 | 46 ratings
Inni
2011

SIGUR RÓS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.24 | 72 ratings
Heima
2007
3.33 | 9 ratings
Valtari Film Experiment
2013

SIGUR RÓS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.65 | 46 ratings
Hvarf / Heim
2007

SIGUR RÓS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 13 ratings
Svefn-G-Englar (EP)
1999
3.45 | 11 ratings
Ný Batterí
2000
2.80 | 5 ratings
Rímur EP
2001
3.68 | 9 ratings
Untitled #1 (a.k.a. Vaka)
2003
3.33 | 29 ratings
Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do (EP)
2004
2.37 | 11 ratings
Hoppípolla
2005
3.81 | 14 ratings
Sćglópur
2006
3.50 | 9 ratings
Hljómalind
2007
2.84 | 6 ratings
We Play Endlessly
2009
2.00 | 11 ratings
Brennisteinn
2013
3.20 | 5 ratings
Ísjaki
2013

SIGUR RÓS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Takk... by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.86 | 292 ratings

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Takk...
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Continuing their dream pop laced post-rock with classically ethereal and spaced out melancholic rock like no other, SIGUR RÓS released their fourth album TAKK? six years after their breakthrough album "Ágćtis byrjun" caught the world's attention with their bizarre mix of ambient art rock set out in a classically tinged post-rock world that was as alien as their native Icelandic topography. Well, fourth album if you're not counting the 2003 documentary soundtrack "Hlemmur" which was limited to the world of electronica with sounds solely created to accompany the visuals. TAKK? (means 'thanks' in Icelandic and other Scandinavian languages) continued the success following "( )" and hit the number one spot on Iceland's album charts and was another international success story as well. As with previous albums the lyrics appear in the invented language Hopelandic a great deal but TAKK? has many tracks in Icelandic as well, however they come across as angelic gibberish all the same sounding like a more classically infused version of the Cocteau Twins at times.

While stylistically TAKK? doesn't deviate significantly from the established overall sound that SIGUR RÓS had latched onto on "Ágćtis byrjun" and carried on with "( )," the music has actually become significantly more complex with more extensive uses of time signature changes and complex polyrhythms. And also while previous albums were limited to the four main musicians with four guest musicians appearing on "( )," the band clearly had a larger budget to play with on TAKK? which finds an astonishing sixteen guests providing cellos, violins, violas, trumpets, trombones and additional vocals (even a choir) and percussion. The results of which allow a substantially more lush and full effect sound that allows the many musicians to sound like a complex symphony rather than a more mortal post-rock band from Reykjavík.

TAKK? is yet another tranquil journey into an ethereal sonic journey that incorporates lush ambient passages, placid childlike vocals portraying a possible worldview of innocence and peacefulness along with a sophisticated string and brass section that master the art of note slides and subtle leapfrogging effects. While the music slinks by on simmer for the majority of the album's hour plus run, there are outbursts of climactic rock crescendos that unleash the normally tamped down electric guitars however they don't last long so do not expect the emphasis on TAKK? to be in the rock department. In fact this is much more of an art pop creation that just happens to have rock elements casually strewn about.

In all regards, TAKK? perfectly evolves the band to the next level without sacrificing any of the elements that cast them in a global gaze of admiration however to their credit they took the sound and expanded it in the most logical manner? that being an expansion of the musicians to broaden the sound, a more sophisticated approach in constructing the compositions and utilizing even more catchy pop sensibilities on tinkly piano melodies and polyrhythms. To the untrained ear TAKK? may sound simply like more of the same but for those who have engaged in even a casual classical music appreciation course will be able to pinpoint the differences. TAKK? may not win over any converts who don't have the ear for this most bizarre of sounds but it is certainly a worthy follow-up to a string of exciting albums.

 Von by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.46 | 91 ratings

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Von
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

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

 Ágćtis Byrjun by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.13 | 496 ratings

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Ágćtis Byrjun
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Agaetis Byrjun' - Sigur Ros (81/100)

I think I've come a long way in my appreciation for Sigur Rós. Sometime during high school, I came across a copy of Takk... available for loan in a public library. For all of the great things I'd heard about the Icelandic darlings, I was pretty quickly repulsed by the all-too precious tone and childlike vibe that seemed to have worked its way into every lilting moment of music on that album. I barely made it through a single listen before setting them down for good, passing Sigur Rós off as some sort of moody Alvin and the Chipmunks-type deal. Years (and some eye-opening experience with ( )) later, I've dived into Ágćtis byrjun with a more enlightened set of ears. It's probably still too precious, too cutesy, and too childlike for my usual tastes, but the reasons why the album has earned such an honoured place with so many fans have not gone over my head. Ágćtis byrjun skirt the uncommon boundary between rock and ambient music; the sweeping textures are vast and effective, and the songwriting underneath is most often inspired. I might still prefer the brooding atmosphere of ( ) over this, but the fact remains: Ágćtis byrjun serves everything a listener could possibly want out of a Sigur Rós record.

Even relative to other post-rock, Ágćtis byrjun feels incredibly ambient in the way Sigur Rós have arranged and realized it. Most post-rock bands (I'm thinking go-to staples like Godspeed and Explosions in the Sky) revel in this sort of soaring atmosphere, but there's almost always a sense of rock repertoire in the music. With Ágćtis byrjun, I would hesitate to say there's even much in the way of guitar riffs. Most of the distinctive sound is brought in waves of texture, delivered by a guitar played with a bow- the sort of unconventional approach Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page would take out during extended live solos as an intriguing novelty. With Ágćtis byrjun especially, Sigur Rós have taken the potential of a bowed guitar to its natural conclusion. Beyond a doubt, it's the most innovative aspect Sigur Rós have in their arsenal. The bowed guitar flourishes are larger-than-life, but lack any sort of threatening edge or the grit of traditional riffs. In many cases, I'd cite non-threatening instrumentation as a bad thing. For Sigur Rós, they wear it as an asset. And it works.

As is often the case for the brighter side of ambient music, the atmosphere here is one of soaring. Cheery, hopeful, redemptive feelings are awash in the midst of the indistinct guitar textures, the light string sections and pleasantly dreamy atmospherics. It's interesting (though, for many, redundant) to note that singer Jonsi vocalizes in an invented language called Vonlenska (Hopelandic, for us anglophones). Relative to the surge of positive emotions on Ágćtis byrjun, it's quite a thing that the so-called lyrics are about nothing at all. I may be digressing a bit, but it says something about the nature of music when such vivid mental images are conjured when listening to songs with no set or determined meanings. Moreover, at least from my own experience as a listener, it's quite rare to hear a band take such ambitious lengths to portraying the positive side of emotion. Very often, it's the darker feelings that evoke strong artistry. Is it because happiness is seen as unworthy or shallow in the eye of the artist? I'm not sure, but to date, there haven't been many albums I've heard that, at their best moments, convey the sort of positive warmth that Sigur Rós have evoked on Ágćtis byrjun.

It feels important, however, to stress that these grand feelings are drawn from moments, rather than Ágćtis byrjun as a whole. There isn't filler here per se, but the album's distinctly ambient leaning can make the 70-odd minute length strain a listener's attention. For whatever reason, the album's latter act never really grips me, at least in the same way the first few tracks did. Is it because there is a true dip in quality? I don't think so. Most likely, it's because the magic of Sigur Rós' atmosphere begins to wear off when the somnolent ambiance is pushed past the hour mark. I don't think that's a failure as a listener either; added surprises (like the quaint woodwinds melody on "Olsen Olsen") would have served to alleviate he increasingly lackadaisical impression. Even so, there are songs here that would have sparked my attention no matter where they were on the album. "Starálfur" is an instantly lovely track, alight with piano and strings. "Olsen Olsen" is another nice one, with a similarly light and cheery feel to it. "Flugufrelsarinn" is not a world away from the rest of the album's general cheer and warmth, but compared to "Starálfur" before it, it has a more mysterious, even foreboding atmosphere to it. Sigur Rós are best with arrangement and texture, but they've proven themselves to be capable songwriters as well.

I'm not sure why I've left the most negative thing about Ágćtis byrjun and Sigur Rós as a whole until the last, but I also figure my general distaste for Jonsi's vocals are the most controversial(?) thing I have to say about the album. Looking back to the initial disgust I had towards Takk..., veyr little of it had to do with the instrumentation. Every doubt I had was pointed at Jonsi's voice, which was (and still) almost insufferably elfish and precious. Compounded with the Hopelandic lyrical angle, Jonsi's vocals aren't for everyone, and they're certainly not for me. With that said, it's rare to come across a vocalist in any genre who seems to embody their own originality so well. Jonsi's voice doesn't fill me with the joy in which others have felt, but his voice is instantly and irrefutably 'him'. No other singer is quite like Jonsi, which is certainly saying something to the band's credit.

With Ágćtis byrjun, Sigur Rós more or less established themselves as the musical equivalent to filmmaker Wes Anderson. It's a regression to a childlike innocence and wonder most of us felt at some point, and ultimately grew past. I've heard this childlike atmosphere in music before (I much prefer the way maudlin of the Well does it) but in that and so many other things, Sigur Rós have, in their own little way, found a slight slice of perfection. It does not have the dramatic intensity of ( ), nor do I find my heart infiltrated by it the way I'd expect from a considered masterpiece or favourite album, but Ágćtis byrjun has altogether earned its place in the post-rock canon. Beautiful, it is.

 Valtari by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.15 | 113 ratings

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Valtari
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Drifting past the target.

A full four years after the incredible and criminally overlooked Me' Su' ' Eyrum Vi' Spilum Endalaust Intitle in 2008 Sigur Ros finally returned with Valtari in 2012. After their fifth studio album the band had announced an indefinite hiatus at the end of their tour. The guys in the band had been forming families and although several sessions had formed to record new material at least two attempts at making a new album had been scrapped. The band had been recycling old material and didn't like the way things were going.

So they split - until the release of this album.

Valtari is in many ways what most people would expect of the atmospheric post-rock band, but with a certain sense of absence permeating through the course of the album. It has moments where the band comes through in all their gorgeous glory, but for the most part it is slow, minimalistic and even, in some cases - boring. The band self-described the album as "an avalanche in slow motion," which does suit the overall feel well. These are the kinds of tracks that would make for a good break-up in an otherwise bombastic album but in a collection on their own they feel tedious.

While it is a great achievement to come back from such a hiatus and definitely a good thing to see the band back in form again it is tough to recommend this album to anyone outside of the band's core group of fans. Fans will find something new to love in the perhaps experimental approach to the album and may even consider it a gem in their discography but for the general prog enthusiast it would be an album to come around to much later in your explorations of an otherwise interesting and highly emotionally charged band.

 ( ) by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.96 | 329 ratings

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( )
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars The first time I put on Svigaplatan or the Parenthesis Album ( ) i was doing some much needed housekeeping and not fully focusing on the music. It was having none of it. It punished me by keeping me from getting into it. I realized my error in playing such intricate and slowly unfolding post-rock music while not fully focusing on it and revisited this album. The difference was that this time my mind was clear. My attention was focused and my expectations were nonexistent. Wow! Blown away I was. Transported to another musical universe, I accepted the calm, placid call of the Icelandic siren who whisked me away into the sonicscape for a peaceful dreamy experience with occasional volcanic outbursts unlike no other.

Although it's hard to detect many differences between ( ) and "Ágćtis byrjun" when trying to compare them, it is this one that blows me away more. It continues the fluid flow of the musical feel as the spacey post-rock blooms at an unhurried leisurely pace that makes me think of a progressive variety of dream pop much like the Cocteau Twins may have done had they continued the sound of the album "Victorialand" and ran away with the possibilities. As stated by others, the songs are of the perfect running time. They realize their potential and accept their limits but aren't afraid to let them live out their full lives. I now am a bona fide SIGUR ROS fan and will certainly hear (more)

 Međ Suđ Í Eyrum Viđ Spilum Endalaust by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.29 | 142 ratings

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Međ Suđ Í Eyrum Viđ Spilum Endalaust
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Bigger than the frozen wastes of Iceland

Sigur Ros are not an easy band to get into. Their soundscapes and bombast often leave more melody and rock oriented music fans out of the loop. They are uncompromising in their style, singing in their native Icelandic (making their song and album titles impossible to remember or pronounce for most of us), and use massive dramatic builds that often takes minutes to finally climax. They have had a string of highly praised albums in the progressive scene and abroad and their live shows are critically acclaimed worldwide.

Međ suđ í eyrum viđ spilum endalaust is a departure from early albums and a huge change in the direction of their style, somehow still managing to maintain their signature sound and atmosphere. Unlike previous, highly melancholy albums, this one has a definite sense of joy to it. The opening track in particular, Gobbledigook features a soaring melody and vocals that could bring a smile to the most miserable of misers. Inní mér syngur vitleysingur features similar happiness with an almost victorious ring to its wonderful symphonic washes.

There's no song on the album that seems to lag, and the longer tracks on the album take their time once again to go more emotional. Festival in particular is an awe inspiring standout. It is a slow burner that takes its time soothing the audience into a melancholic beauty before building with and every quickening drum and bursting into a full, lush and spine chilling climax at the seven-and-a-half minute mark. It is strikingly beautiful.

Certainly not for the impatient or the cold of heart, Sigur Ros's sixth album is a progressive masterpiece that deserves a listen from anyone who dares. 5 stars for an album that is always able to give me goosebumps and bring a happy tear to my eye.

 Kveikur by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.67 | 93 ratings

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Kveikur
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sigur Ros had made their name as one of the most tranquil and serene of the post-rock groups, but whilst albums like ( ) and Takk were widely embraced, since then many had felt their sound had stagnated and become formulaic. Kveikur represents a radical shift, working in a discordant undercurrent of industrial noise which works a sense of lingering unease into the group's sound. Whilst taking your sound in a darker direction isn't an automatic ticket to success, in this case the radical shift in Sigur Ros' sound refreshes it immensely and makes them more relevant that at any time since the release of Takk.
 ( ) by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.96 | 329 ratings

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( )
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BatBacon

4 stars I can understand how this album has such a low rate, but I don't agree. But then I have a special relation to this album (and all the other Sigur Ros creations) as its been with me a long time now and been there through a lot of tough times in my life. Jonsi´s voice is one of the most comforting voices I know and Kjartan Sveinsson on keyboards is inventing whole worlds with his minimalistic but epic playin. ( ) is a lot slower than all the other records, which says a lot, but also much darker. For a long time this has been my absolute favorite album to put on when going to sleep. For many it may sound as a negative thing, an album that makes you fall asleep, but there comes episodes in life when there is nothing in the whole world you need more!

The interesting thing about ( ) is how it seems to be divided into two parts, where the first part is slow, dreamy and just beautiful with a lot of thought and comfort. The second part is amazingly sad but also very dramatic with songs, slowly building up too dramatic climaxes.

First part opens with the beautiful "Vaka", very calm and simple, a perfect opening track with beautiful vocals and keyboards, setting a nice mood for the whole album. Second song "Fyrsta" is more ambient and strange, but still very comforting. Then comes "Samskeyti", an instrumental song with a beautiful piano track and growing sound of keyboards giving this song a very serene climax. Its hard to explain in words, but it sounds like breathing. Last song of ( )´s first part is "Njósnavélin", a bit more optimistic sounding than the other songs and not as slow ether.

Second part is where people start having problems with ( ), because before you get to know the album all the songs sound pretty much the same. They are all very slow, very dark and very, very sad. Also, if you haven't fallen asleep during the first part of the album, its going to be a bit hard now as this songs is much more dramatic and has drummer Orri Páll Dýrason taking an important and leading role with an explosive way of drumming. To be honest I actually felt this part was boring until I heard some live versions of the songs and also took a walk with the album playing on my iPod. Putting this songs into a new context made me understand them and give them a meaning. All you really have to do is listen a bit more careful than you are used to do with Sigur Rós.

Last song "Popplagiđ" is probably the highlight of ( ) and a perfect way of ending this album! It starts of with beautiful guitar playing and ambient sounds in the background making this song sound large and, in contrast to the other songs of second part, a bit more pop-ish. The vocals here are probably some of the best Sigur Rós have ever written, its so very easing and melodic. With a bang the song changes mood to something a lot more haunting and a lot more dramatic guitar playing. The vocals transform into stretched out words, almost shouting. Jonsi is master of using his voice as an instrument, and this is one of the best examples. But the thing that´s really driving the song into the climax is Dýrasons fantastic, mindblowing drumming, its almost like he makes his drums cry with the song. A simple key change in the vocals in combination with crashing cymbals and thundering toms, you have a perfect epic. Just listen to the track and tell me that this isn't one of the greatest things ever! My living room is never as silent as after hearing this song.

 Ágćtis Byrjun by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.13 | 496 ratings

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Ágćtis Byrjun
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

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.

 Kveikur by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.67 | 93 ratings

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Kveikur
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The latest Sigur Rós CD hasn't earned much attention yet on these pages: evidence, maybe, that their soporific ought-twelve album "Valtari" lulled even diehard fans into a blissfully narcotized coma. The band has since been reduced to a trio, and to compensate for the loss of their keyboard player the rhythm section was pushed forward in the mix, overwhelming even the awesome drone of Jónsi Birgisson's bowed electric guitar.

The end result is a surprising return to a younger, heavier Sigur Rós, while still marking a bold step forward in style and attitude. The new album takes the ethereal soundscapes that have always defined the Sigur Rós sound and forges them into a louder and more powerful noise, reminiscent at times of the Texas quartet EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY enjoying a Scandinavian vacation. Gone are the extended Post Rock crescendos, replaced by something approaching the icy extremities of Post Pop: a dense, agitated, surging wall of music with a welcome ray of bright arctic sunlight at its heart.

In a different setting the album might have sounded (almost) conventional. Songs like "Ísjaki" and "Stormur" are as accessible as this enigmatic band has ever been, but the majestic tempos and trendy over-amped distortion happily mask the relative simplicity of the writing, without hiding it completely. And the weirder effects sound like BJÖRK somehow crept into the recording studio while no one was looking and tampered with the master tapes.

Analog listeners will have to forgive the noisy digital production, atypically 'hot' for such an otherwise wintry ensemble, and sounding in places like the bitter end of a fried sub-woofer (or inner ear pan). Notice how effective the quieter moments are, minus all the grinding percussion and distorted guitars. And the pair of Japanese-market bonus tracks add a contrary touch of formless, near-industrial ambience, showing how beautiful an inorganic machine can be when the cogs are properly oiled.

Otherwise the album makes a brave attempt to re-establish Sigur Rós as the primal entity they once were, instead of the spent creative force the band seemed in danger of becoming.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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