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Showing 1-10 of 170 reviews(5 star). See all 221 reviews
Experimental Icelandic band Sigur Rós reached exceptional heights with "Agaetis Byrjun," a fluidly mellow album. Music both cool and beautiful is warmed by Jon Por Birgisson's falsetto vocals and some majestic instrumentation -- and the result is staggeringly lovely.
The peak of the album is the slow, sparkling, sweeping "Svefn-G-Englar." When listening to the eerie mixture of organ, strings and chimes, think about the northern lights over a glacier. But Sigur Rós has more than just soundscapes: the orchestral majesty of "Staralfur," the ethereal music-box acoustics of "Agaetis Byrjun," and the gentle piano and swelling strings of "Vidrar vel til loftarasa."
It's hardly surprising that Sigur Rós is the biggest band in Ireland -- their music is ethereal, accessible, and so atmospheric that it's hard not to be swept away. There's a certain epic quality to their songs; what's more, they can can slowly switch from spine-tinglingly eerie to angelic ethereality.
It takes real effort to pick apart the seamless music at times. It almost feels wrong to do so. But the sweeping strings, organ and electric piano are standouts in "Agaetis Byrjun." Most uniquely, there are music-scapes created without synths. Instead, there is an electric guitar played by a cello bow -- a unique bit of brilliance.
Icelandic singers are going to sing in Icelandic, right? Wrong. Frontman Jon Por Birgisson sings in a sort of made-up language the band calls "Hopelandic." There's no discernable meaning, but Birgisson's high-pitched, melodious crooning banishes any real need for lyrics that mean something. His voice is just another instrument, like the piano or violin.
Imagine a cool, starry night with a cold breeze blowing through the trees -- that's Sigur Rós. Angelic and ethereal, "Agaetis Byrjun" is a rare musical experience without a single dud song.
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on December 29, 2005
If you heard a song or two from Sigur Ros -downloaded or from a friend- and haven't bought anything from them you must start here first.
to agree with Krist and Neil it did invoke Pink Floyd; Svefn-G-Englar starts almost exactly as "Echoes" did of Pink Floyd's 1971 album "Meddle".
This album Invokes all the groups strengths and weaknesses. If you examine one track on this album go straight to Ny Batteri, they are excellent mood makers and build up the tension only to let it explode in a great big clash of noise. This track is a great cut away of the album. The explosions of noise are MIA on ( ) and they are too prevelent on Takk... which may give the listener the wrong impression of the band. Without these burst of emotion the album would be completely boring in my opinion.
however their perennial weakness rears its ugly head -in my opinion- they take too god damn long to get rolling sometimes making their songs and albums long just for the sake of taking up my time. But alas it is art after all.

If you are not a fan, because you hate the way the singer sounds or some other stubborn reason like that, then avoid at all costs it will not win you over. However for the curious -like I was- and the patient, this is an album of sometimes overwhelming beauty -it gave me chills at some points- and I highly recommend it.
5 full stars for being their best work so far, and one of my favorite albums.
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on June 10, 2004
Wow, what can I say. If you have any inkling to expose yourself to beautiful music, then this CD is for you. Sigur Ros has quickly become a staple in my CD player, and I am sure it will for you.
This is what RadioHead has been trying to achieve, and Tom Yorkes invite to have Sigur Ros open for them only solidified my decision to purchase this disc.
Agaetis Byrjun , and () - another phenomenal piece of music, have the potential to change your music habits forever. The haunting vocals (which are not in any language I recognize) will stay in your head long after the CD has stopped.
The first time I listened to this it was like a whole new world of music was opened to me. I can only imagine this is exactly how people felt when first exposed to Dark Side of the Moon. The arrangement of instruments is simply stunning, and will have your emotions dancing all over the place.
Please do not let this CD get away from you. Ask your friends, and anyone else who has a broad view on music, they will likely agree.
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on January 11, 2004
'Agaetis Byrjun' is pure art, unlike most music released these days. Its innate beauty stuns at first listen and purely delights and sooths every listen thereafter. This album is unlike what most people have never considered possible, much less listened to. This, however, shouldn't daunt a prospective listener. Even if one does not enjoy this music (which I think is possible yet not common), one can appreciate the subtlety of Sigur Rós and their musical abilities.
My favorite song on 'Agaetis Byrjun' is 'Vidrar Vil tel Loftarasa' which is Icelandic (as is sung the album) for 'nice dau for an air raid'. It's mood is unlike any other I've felt in my large and diverse collection of music. Its corresponding video is touching, for both obvious and personal reasons.
On that note, I also recommend the Sigur 1/Sigur 9 single, not so much for the music CD than for the included DVD containing the breathtaking videos for 'Svefn-G-Englar', the abovementioned 'Vidrar Vil tel Loftarasa' from 'Agaetis Byrjun' and 'Untitled #1' from Sigur Rós' untitled following to 'Agaetis Burjun'

This album is definately a necessity for music-lovers young and old.
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on July 16, 2004
Anyone who appreciates beautiful music would love this album. It's not something you listen to when you're drunk in the club, or jamming in your car down the boardwalk on the beach, but its something to listen to and enjoy by yourself. These songs make you think of life, of past relationships, of God, and of the world. The only problem with this is, if you are mainly for lyrics, and you don't speak the language of this band, you will not understand a word, let alone spell a song's name. Do not listen to this album to find meaning in the words. Let the singer's voice and sounds be part of the music instead of focusing on what he is saying. I believe this is an album where you will either REALLY love it or it just won't be for you. If you are strictly into American pop music, hiphop/R&B, metal or hard rock, or close-minded to a certain hardcore sound, this album might not be for you. If you are open-minded to music that isn't just screaming and hardcore riffs, and isn't filled with hot beats with someone yappin about ridin on dubs and 24's, this might catch your ear. This is what music is supposed to be. I'm not saying this is what all music should be. I am saying that all music, whatever genre, should be on this level. If that were possible, the world would be a much more enjoyable place. If you have time to listen to this album, I strongly strongly strongly recommend it.
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on February 6, 2004
I believe my title really sums up my opinions on this record, but since that doesn't offer much detail, it's probably a good idea for me to elaborate a bit.
This album is the most beautiful thing ever put to wax. Plain and simple. The music is long (songs range from 7-10 minutes), complex, and beautifully orchestrated. The band utilises an awe-inspiring string section that never fails to touch. Listening to tracks 3 and 4 remove all doubt about this claim. Singer Jonsi's falsetto, Icelandic vocals are easily the strangest to ever emit from a human being and float over each song beautifully, used more as another instrument than anything else. Most of the songs on this album are sung in Icelandic, a very beautiful language indeed, while some songs are sung in "Hopelandic", a made-up "language" comprised of about 12 syllables. While this may be a bit silly, the band's sound totally makes up for anything that one might see as stupid.
While this band has often been compared to Godspeed you black emporer, Mogwai, and other "post-rock" acts, Sigur Ros really sounds like no one else. They are totally unique and stunningly original. It will take the listener a bit of time to fully realize and get into this music, but if you're patient and take time to listen to this album, you will be richly rewarded in the future. That is a guarantee and a promise.
"Children will be conceived, wrists will be slashed, scars will be healed, and tears will be wrenched by this group. They are the first vital band of the 21st Century."-Brent DiCrescenzo
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on January 15, 2004
I love Sigur Ros, but I have to chuckle at all the reviewers on this page who breathlessly anoint them the inventors of a whole new style of music. This band's style is not groundbreakingly new, but rather its exact opposite--unashamedly retro. Seriously. Anyone possessing a passing familiarity with the pre-"Dark Side of the Moon" releases of Pink Floyd (especially Umma Gumma, Live at Pompeii, Atom Heart Mother, or Meddle) will have no trouble figuring out where Sigur Ros gets their inspiration from.
Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. Quite the contrary, I never thought I would hear anyone who could scale the majestic, otherworldy heights of classic early Floyd, but Sigur Ros are worthy successors. Agaetis Byrjun is a masterpiece, a colossal composition of such surpassing beauty that words literally cannot do it justice. You'll notice that a large number of reviewers struggle to put this album into words, and end up describing it in terms of the visual images the music conjures up for them. For me, the image would be sitting on top of Cadillac Mountain on the coast of Maine and watching the sun rise out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Does that make any sense? Probably not. All I can say for certain is that Agaetis Byrjun is an antidote to the soulless crap currently infesting popular music. It is music to be played over headphones in the dark late at night; it is music to be played while sitting on top of a mountain. You will cry at least once when listening to this. You will feel inspired and renewed while listening to this.
Sigur Ros have managed to record the cosmos.
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on January 3, 2004
There is nothing I can say about this album that hasn't already been said. It's breathtaking, bold, groudbreaking, and above all beautiful. I'm willing to bet that they have this on rotation up in heaven. Every song feels like a star filled night sky on a cool autumn night. The music is very hard to describe. It's very ambient in a way, with beautiful string and horn arangments weaved into place perfectly throughout. I think most every instrument makes an apperance on this album, and every instrument used is used perfectly. The language spoken is often dubbed "Hopelandic", and it is very beautiful. It sounds like an angel is indeed singing.
This is one of my favorite albums, and is one of the few albums that I treasure and am better because of. Sigur Ros have created a tremendous piece of art. I can not recommend this album enough, everyone should own this and listen to it regularly. Things could be a lot better. Buy this album for its originality and its beauty.
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on December 29, 2003
Let me begin by saying that of the two Sigur Ros albums, I can't choose a favorite...they are both excellent, but to my ear quite different from each other. I would characterize Agaetis Byrjun as the more orchestral of the two, using fuller, more sweeping arrangements. There is also more use of ambient sound effects. It's also, in spite of the darker cover art, the brighter and more optimistic of the two. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this evokes in me the beauty I might imagine in Heaven. Yes, there are some dark places here, but overall, this is a very comforting work to listen to.
Probably Pink Floyd's album Meddle is one of the best comparisons--especially to "Svefn-G-Englar", which seems to have been heavily influenced by "Echoes". Although "Svefn-G-Englar" is not an epic on the scale of "Echoes", it manages in its own way, the same kind of relaxed beauty found in the opening and closing sections of the Pink Floyd song. The classic rock influences also show in Sigur Ros' reliance on more traditional instruments rather than allowing it to be completely synth-driven. The Hammond organ is clearly audible in "Svefn-G-Englar", and the Rhodes electric piano is featured in "Hjartad hamast". Also, the haunting backdrop common to most Sigur Ros songs is not created by a synth, but instead by an electric guitar played with a cello bow. Jonsi's voice, rather than conveying any message, is an instrument in and of itself, even higher than Radiohead's Thom Yorke, and perhaps at times even more melodic.
While it is all quite good, my absolute favorite tracks, without a doubt, are "Staralfur" and "Hjartad hamast". A gorgeous piano riff in "Staralfur" serves as the backdrop to a beautiful string section. This is the sort of work with which I would love to be greeted in Heaven--especially the final great orchestral solo. "Hjartad hamast" is a very interesting combination between a melancholy-seeming blues-influenced piece and a sequence so beautiful that it evokes a sense of flying. In light of that section, even the more brooding sections no longer seem so dark.
Other highlights include the percussion work on "Ny batteri" and the piano on "Vidrar vel til loftarasa", as well as its innovative orchestral outro. The last two tracks seem to move in a less orchestral direction that foreshadows the work on ( ). "Avalon" even takes on a somewhat minimalist approach not unline Talk Talk's later work. Lately, this album has even been a comfort in trying to deal with a recent loss. Others' perception of the music may differ, but the overall effect of this album is to uplift. While I love both Agaetis Byrjun and ( ), I must grudgingly admit that this is probably the strongest of the two.
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on November 9, 2003
Don't try to break it down. Don't try to analyze it, or even think about it. Sigur Rós certainly doesn't.
This album is full of gorgeous music without a message. It has no political musings, it has no outward cries to anyone or anything. All it is is music that exists to be listened to. Not listened to with a fiery heart, or a keen mind, or anything else that could scrutinize or misconstrue, but just listened to.
To all those that say it's "pretentious", you're obviously bitter about your own musical shortcomings and have fallen prey to the evil beast of pseudointellectualism, wearing its traditional thick, black rimmed glasses, anti-culture t-shirt, worn jeans and Carhartt jacket. Shut up. You know nothing of what you speak. You can't enjoy it with tunnel vision and a closed mind.
It's not rock, it's not ambient, it's not classical, and trying to find "influences" or saying "it sounds similar to Radiohead" will just not do it justice. This is not Radiohead. This is Sigur Rós, and it is truly beautiful music for people who wish to listen to it and have their own experience.
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