Artist – Album: Sigur Rós – Ágætis Byrjun
Released: 12th June 1999
Sounds Like: Music to make documentaries by
There’s no doubt, 1999 was a simpler time. You listened to CDs on your walkman, your choice of TV had just been expanded to a whole five channels and the internet was strictly for geeks. People were partying like it was the year it was and one of the biggest worries was just some sort of bug apparently... For me, life mostly revolved around kicking ass in primary school (I could do all the times tables) and wondering just which trophy my favourite football team would pick up next.
In the music world, SMTV Live and Top of the Pops showcased a fluffy diet of boyband schmaltz and weedy indie. Although we were spared Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh’s ridiculous talent contests (alright I’ve never seen X-Factor, it may well be awesome), we were instead treated to their managed, polished pop bands. And it was in to this comfortable climate that the alien sound of Sigur Rós drifted over from Iceland.
Slow and steady (glacial is the buzzword here), the music creeps on you and before you know it you’re facing a mammoth wall of sound. Dramatic falsetto wails out the band’s legendary made up language Hopplandish amid cinematic, epic soundscapes. On an album bursting with lush gems, of particular note are 'Svefn-g-englar', 'Viðrar vel til loftárása' and 'Olsen Olsen'.
Nowadays we’ve become somewhat accustomed to the group’s gorgeous music, with it now being the template soundtrack to David Attenborough documentaries. You can’t blame the lazy editors at the BBC though, you listen to this stuff and you can’t help but picture coasting glaciers, cascading waterfalls and stop motion photography of plants unfurling. Blank slate it though, and reward yourself with one of the most original and beautiful albums of all time.
Albumaday... rating: 10/10
1. Intro – 1:36
2. Svefn-g-englar – 10:04
3. Starálfur – 6:46
4. Flugufrelsarinn – 7:48
5. Ný batterí – 8:06
6. Hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm) – 7:08
7. Viðrar vel til loftárása – 10:13
8. Olsen Olsen – 8:03
9. Ágætis byrjun – 7:39
10. Avalon – 4:01
Listen to ‘Olsen Olsen’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LeQN249Jqw