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Sigur Rós - Ágćtis Byrjun CD (album) cover


Sigur Rós


Post Rock/Math rock

4.14 | 556 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
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.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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