Agaetis Byrjun review by Sigur Rós

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  • Released: Jun 12, 1999
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.2 (25 votes)
Sigur Rós: Agaetis Byrjun
3

Sound — 10
Recorded in the band's infamous swimming pool studio in Iceland, "Ágætis Byrjun" is a pure masterpiece. Running 73 minutes long, "Ágætis Byrjun," which means an alright start, deals with matters of life, death, afterlife and rebirth. Jonsi uses a cello bow for most of the songs creating an atmospheric ambience that is haunting and beautiful; complimented perfectly by beautiful piano melodies and string accompaniments. On top of all of this is Jonsi's singing. Since he primarily sings in a very high falsetto the vocals sound more like another instrument than a traditional singer. This CD has many very interesting elements to it that you wouldn't expect. For example, the intro track is a riff from the song "Svefn-G-Englar", which means angels or sleepwalkers, reversed. Likewise, the last song on the CD, "Avalon," is a riff from the title track "Ágætis Byrjun," slowed down. In the song, "Ný Batterí," Orri, the drummer, uses a cymbal which he found on the side of the road. A car had run over the cymbal and this gave the cymbal a very clashy quality which suites the song. In the song "Hjartad Hamast" the band experiments with a funky bass line and a harmonica, creating a truly unique Sigur Ros song.

Lyrics — 10
Unlike most of the Sigur Ros albums, "Ágætis Byrjun" has actual lyrics for the majority of their songs instead of the usual "Hopelandish" which is a completely fictional language Jonsi made up. These lyrics, however, are meaningful and match the songs perfectly. Most notably in the song "Svefn-G-Englar," Jonsi says, "I explode out and the piece is no more, I cry, I cry disconnected." Vocally this CD is incredible. Jonsi's otherworldly voice soars with great intensity and tenderness. Even if you can't quite understand what he is saying, you can feel it through the passion that he sings with. Considering that Jonsi only became the singer of Sigur Ros because no one else could sing is astonishing. Jonsi's unparalleled falsetto's melt perfectly with the band and are absorbed in the ethereal bliss that is Sigur Ros.

Overall Impression — 10
"Ágætis Byrjun" launched the band to worldwide recognition and this is still one of their best albums to date. With tracks like the mournful yet optimistic "Svefn-G-Englar," and the calm and peaceful title track, "Ágætis Byrjun," this band established itself as leaders in post-rock music. The wall of ambient feedback produced is nostalgic of wind in rustling through the trees, or waves crashing on the shore. The music is beautiful, haunting, dismal, and optimistic all at once. Ironically the last lyrics on the CD are, "We sit down, excited, listen to ourselves play the music... But it didn't sound good, we were all in agreement. We'll do better next time. This is an alright start." This is much more than an alright start, it is an incredible album, and a must have for Sigur Ros fans, or post-rock fans in general.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Quicksand15
    korinaflyingv wrote: nothing they've ever written can match the awesomeness of Untitled 8, and nothing they write ever will.
    i couldn't have said it better =) just a perfect song!
    sigur_ros6
    BreakingBnj wrote: Sigur Ros is my bedtime album... It puts you to sleep, always (In the most positive way possible,that is.) Most beautiful music in the world.
    you should check out the band hammock. Their album "Maybe they will sing for us tomorrow" is an incredible bedtime album.
    BreakingBnj
    Sigur Ros is my bedtime album... It puts you to sleep, always (In the most positive way possible, that is.) Most beautiful music in the world.
    DemonDante
    I love Sigur Rs, but while I love their new stuff, I still adore the Agaetis album above all their other works. Can't beat what my friend and I call the "Sigros Musicgasm" - such as around 6 minutes into Svefn-g-englar when it all crashes in.
    antareus
    Quicksand15 wrote: korinaflyingv wrote: nothing they've ever written can match the awesomeness of Untitled 8, and nothing they write ever will. i couldn't have said it better =) just a perfect song!
    I thought the same thing, and then heard Hjartao Hamast. I count experiencing that song as one of my musical epiphanies and believe it to be on par with Untitled 8.
    korinaflyingv
    Brilliant album. Not quite as good as ( ) though, nothing they've ever written can match the awesomeness of Untitled 8, and nothing they write ever will.
    Robert I.
    music as beautiful as this has never before been written, composed and recorded... I can only hope that one day I will have the honor of going to one of their concerts.
    Ace Frehley
    I really believe this is one of their best albums!The music and the feelings they deliver in this album are just great!
    arondadi
    Me su eyrum vi spilum endalaust? Yes, I'm from Iceland. Have never really listen to Sigur Rs though.
    sigur_ros6
    yeah sorry about that Avalon is from stratlafur and the intro is the title track reversed sorry for any confusion
    shkrmkr
    Agaetis Byrjun is my favourite Sigur Rs album, but Med Sud is amazing too. By the way, Avalon is a riff from Starlfur.
    Ixthyx
    Meo suo i eyrum vio spilum endalaust is too brilliant for words. I love Agetis, but this new stuff is simply tops.
    Luming_Hao
    Glad to see they're finally getting the attention they deserve, but I pray that they won't go mainstream.