I was introducing to longform, ambient post-rock via Sigur Rós Ágætis Byrjun. When it was released in 1999, I was 12 years old and had never encountered anything even remotely close to it before.
That same year I also discovered Hopesfall, which also changed heavy music for me. Whereas before I was subjected to the same manufactured garbage as everyone else via rock radio. Admittedly, things were different. That was the “Year of the Napster” (as they say in Chinese culture). Services like Last.fm or Spotify didn’t exist, so it was much more difficult to find similar bands. To be honest, I don’t even remember how I did.
I do recall listening to a lot of Korn, though.
Ágætis is a delight and succeeds because this unique band allows their songs to breathe. The easiest indication of this is the track times: 8 of the album’s 10 songs clock in greater than 6 minutes and 45 seconds.
Some may compare this elaborate, lengthy songwriting to a writer who can’t edit down. I’ll admit it: I’m longwinded. I have trouble paring down my own work, so I can empathize with the problem – but it isn’t an issuefor Jonsi and company. Ágætis doesn’t drag. In fact, there are moments where I wanted songs to keep going, such as the delightful “Starálfur.”
The band again makes liberal usage of “Hopelandic” – the dialect they’ve helped coin, which is some sort of ‘feel’ language. How’s that old phrase go? If the sound feels good, do it? Hit me up on ICQ with your answers.
I remember my first trips through Ágætis being pretty dark. There’s times at which it’s quite mysterious, even downright haunting, like the timeless “Ný Batterí” will never get old to me, and not just because Thursday covered it – but it grips you. A lot of this album does, but I’m sure the tracks that do so will be different for everyone who listens to it. Thankfully though, many of these tracks deliver listeners out of their plunge into darkness with swooping, angular guitars.
“Svefn-g-englar” and “Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása” are both mammoth tracks – towering over the rest of the record at more than 10 minutes long each.
And for what it’s worth, this album is both fantastic rainy day and sleep music.
From their breakout hit (well, in relative terms anyway) Ágætis Byrjun, this is “Olsen Olsen” –
Standout tracks: “Ný Batterí” gets me every time; “Flugufrelsarinn”
Weakest track: Probably “Avalon”
RIYL: Ambient, post-rock. All their other work. Portishead at times.
*little bit of shame**
***lot of bit of shame.