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82 of 84 found the following review helpful:
An old guy likes this stuff tooJul 21, 2006
By J. C Clark
With nearly 300 reviews of this CD already written, and no one but the most deranged fan willing to read more than a few, why add another? Well, because I suspect there are listeners other than myself who look and listen and wonder how to decipher all the woozy praise or hysterical hatred. Besides, of course, buying the darn thing and listening.
I have been a fan of Sigur Ros for over 4 years, having been exposed to them by my daughter, who thought this right up my alley. And she was blindingly right. I have witnessed them twice live. This is amazing stuff. Now, not everything they do is amazing....some of it is rather pedestrian. Tedious. A little embarrassing. Even Mozart wrote uninteresting music. But there is nothing dull on this CD. It is transcendent and intoxicating. Their consistently best work to date.
I do not believe snippets or scraps can really capture what this can do. You need to immerse yourself into the world they create, a sonic palace of bizarre digital noises and weird little drones, a wispy little vocalist and a breathtakingly brilliant percussionist, and savor it all. Unlike anything else, and unrelated to anything else, it stands on its own as something worth experiencing and enjoying.
Sigur Ros is like a Jackson Pollack painting. Often when you look at a Pollack, not a print but the real thing, you wonder what the heck he thought he was up to. He got paid for that? But sometimes Pollack hit it perfectly; he took the same old swirls and drips and spatters on every painter's dropcloth and produced something gorgeous and permanent. This CD has all winners on it, a flow and a movement using the the most elementary, and often most repetitive, little sounds and weaving and blending them into a tapestry of endlessly surprising and often unimaginable beauty.
108 of 118 found the following review helpful:
Not of this worldMay 30, 2002
By drew m
Reports suggest that Sigur Ros is from Iceland, but if they ended up being from Pluto, or some far off galaxy, it wouldn't be surprising. Nor would it make any difference. Agaetis Byrjun, a hypnotic siren song of an album, glides in as if delivered by an advanced alien civilization. Warmer and fuller than any of Radiohead's attempts at moody, ambient music, Agaetis Byrjun would suggest the future of music if you actually believed anyone else on earth was talented enough to replicate its unique sound (no one is).
After a beautiful appetizer of an intro, the album goes right into the epic "Svefn-G-Englar" (try saying that 10 times fast), 10 minutes that may as well last a lifetime. It sounds like a submarine maneuvering through a newly discovered celestial body. Relaxing, powerful, and touching all at once, it sets the tone for the rest of what follows. "Staralfur" follows, a track as hopeful as a newborn child's birth. Listening to it is as cathartic as My Bloody Valentine's shimmering wave of feedback from ten years ago. After the demise (or hibernation) of that band, it's wonderful to see a new band trying to bring rock music to an entirely different level.
Scared of the language barrier? Don't be. Like any opera, the emotion comes through regardless of whether or not you can understand the words. From the dazzle of "Svefn-G-Englar" to the Celtic waterfall of "Olsen Olsen," Sigur Ros bursts with feelings of hope, despair, happiness, sadness, and all points in between, perhaps even creating new emotions as they go along. It's an incredible achievement, not likely to be matched by anybody anytime soon. Unless you count the band itself, but they may have moved on to another solar system by then.
27 of 27 found the following review helpful:
A new favourite of mineDec 14, 2002
By Alex Junaid
"College Arty Type"
I stumbled into Sigur Ros after someone on a messageboard I frequent was expressing excitement about their then-upcoming third album ( ), which I bought the day it was released stateside. I was duly impressed, but it was after I bought Agaetis Byrjun that the band really sunk it's claws into me.
For an album who's songs stretch up into the the ten minute range, this is a very accessable record. The instrumentals are soothing yet intense, often at the same time (think Kid A-era Radiohead), as this is very much mood music. Pianos interweave with bowed electric guitars, fingerpicked acoustics, moderate percussion, keyboard melodies, etcetera. One song (Olsen Olsen, I believe) even has a somewhat dischordant orchestral bombast.
As far as the vocals, Jonsi has a beautiful falsetto (no one I play this for believes that's a guy at first), and even though I don't understand the lyrics (they are Icelandic after all), I like the tonal quality of them.
To a point, Vanilla Sky did for Sigur Ros what Benny & Joon did for the Proclaimers: gave an unknown band stateside a few minutes in the spotlight. Given, Sven-g-Englar (which loosely translates to Sleepwalkers I think), the song on the VS soundtrack, is one you hear people going on about a lot. The standout, in my opinion however, is the title track, Agaetis Byrjun (A Good Beginning). Both are fantastic songs, though, and the rest of the album isn't much behind.
So yes. If you're in the mood for a three minute pop hook, obviously you would do well to look elsewhere. If you're willing to invest a little patience, however, Agaetis Byrjun is a top cut. Let it wash over you and see where it takes you.
520 of 624 found the following review helpful:
The bad reviews are apparently worthlessOct 03, 2003
By Bill Perez
Did I rate it 1 star? I meant 5.
Curious to see on what grounds something so directly and obviously beautiful as this CD could be disliked, I scanned all the negative reviews here to date. Aside from the one respectable negative reviewer--from Iceland--who simply and honestly declared that he "just doesn't get it," I noticed a rather amusing pattern. Intriguingly, there is the nearly universal employment of the word "pretentious" somewhere in the review. This is coupled with the nearly universal pretentiousness of the negative reviews (endless namedropping, amateurish "rock-reviewer" posing, and even some music "biz" kibbitzing, as if they were addressing a stockholder's meeting). The earliest negative review is the paradigm: Devon Reed manages to use the adjective "pretentious"--without irony--in a review that not only contains a quote from Pauline Kael, but attempts to coin the idiotic word "overwhelmingness." I can think of few more pretentious exercises than to dress up one's gut dislike for a work of art with bloated prose about "influences" and solemn pronouncements on the state of contemporary music.
The verdict seems clear: if you are a pretentious--that's right, pretentious--would-be rock critic who has spent years cultivating a refined musical dyspepsia as a replacement for ears, and whose tastes serve as a pseudointellectual identity badge entitling you to whine about people who find beauty where you don't, then stay away from Sigur Ros. You know who you are, and you paradoxically risk a dangerous blood-pressure spike whenever you listen to anything deliberately tranquil. However, if you are just about any other stripe of human, there's a good chance you'll be pleasantly hypnotized by this simply beautiful CD.
15 of 15 found the following review helpful:
breathtakingMar 11, 2001
By Andrew J. Paciocco
If you follow music closely enough to have heard of Sigur Ros, buy this album if you can find it. This album is one of the most beautiful soundscapes I've ever heard, sounding somewhat like shoegazing evolving to its most beautiful level possible. Even though they use little more than a basic 4 piece rock band, with an occasional extra instrument, it sounds bigger than your local philharmonic. Add the who-would-believe-that's-a-male siren vocals of Jon Por Birgisson, to complete the sound. It's hard to listen to this album and not feel like you are not only listnening to something entirely new and unworldly, but also in some entirely unfamiliar awe inspiring landscape.
Comparisons to godspeed you black emperor! have been frequent, but while both bands are are concerned about Art with a capital A, Sigur Ros makes sure the art is obvious in the music, unlike godspeed who want you to think there is a lot going on you don't understand. The best comparison I can think of is if the Dirty Three were determined to be the greatest, or at least grandest, Rock band ever. While post-rock may be the closest label to try to fit on Sigur Ros, it ignores their passion, rather easily accessible beauty, and even the vaguely anthemic quality of some of the songs.
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