Friday, October 02, 2009

Number 8 of the decade - Sigur Rós -Ágætis Byrjun

I've just had one of those really annoying moments when I typed a whole post, went to copy and paste it and then accidently pressed CTRL-C instead of CTRL-V and lost it. Anyone know if you can recover text?

Anyway, what I was typing about before is that looking down the list of the top records I saw Sigur Ros at number 8 with Ágætis Byrjun. Now that was a record.

It brought me back to when I discovered it. My good friend and bandmate David and I found it together. At the time we were listening to big guitars and post-grunge rock with plenty of Smashing Pumpkins and some Rage Against The Machine etc. Then we found this record with unknown sounds, a language called Hopelandish and the voice of angels?

It blew our minds. It led the way to discover more music like Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Explosions In The Sky. Perhaps you didn't need lyrics or choruses after all.

Listening to the record now, it still sounds as fresh and timeless as ever. Never mind the music, the videos were some of the finest ever made.

The Pitchfork review gets it just about right:

They came from Iceland and Radiohead liked them. That's about all we knew back when Ágætis Byrjun first starting making its way around near the turn of the decade, but in those days, that was enough to get people intrigued. Discovering the music of Sigur Rós was an active process, because a series of questions inevitably followed: How do you pronounce their name? What does it mean? Is that a man or a woman singing? Did I hear right, that the words aren't actually in any language? Indeed, since Ágætis Byrjun was one of those records that filled a deep-seated need listeners didn't even know they had, experiencing it was at first a little confusing. Punk had taught us to be skeptical of pure, unapologetic prettiness, so as underground music fans, we'd been conditioned to reject this sort of thing. We were used to it being cut with noise, irony, or emotional distance, which left us unprepared for exquisitely crafted music that asked to be appreciated in the same way as a bright orange sunset or the first snowfall of the season. But we got over it, and once that happened, after we'd given the record a couple of spins, one final question came to mind: Is there any other music like this? --Mark Richardson

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