Day 171: Sigur Rós – Agætis byrjun

18 Aug

Starálfur

Please, don’t ask me how to pronounce either of those.

As a matter of fact, I’d have trouble pronouncing almost every song that I’ve just listened to.  I guess there’s a vowel shortage in Iceland, the country that Sigur Rós calls home.  Flugufrelsarinn?  Anyone want to give that a shot?  What about Svefn-g-englar?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Song titles aren’t the only things that I don’t understand on Agætis byrjun, though.  All tracks with lyrics are—guess what—sung in Icelandic!  That means that the quality of the lyrics has absolutely nothing to do with my perception of this record—I’m judging it on the music, and music alone, which definitely works in Agætis byrjun’s favor.  This music is beautiful.  Describing it as dreamy-post-rock-shoegaze just doesn’t do it justice, this really is a record that should be listened to by everybody.  I feel that even haters would have difficulty hating on Agætis byrjun; a bold statement, I’m sure.

I guess if haters had to find something wrong with this record, they could attack its length, and even call it a little repetitive every now and then.  I think Agætis byrjun’s length works in its favor, though.  Yeah, it’s over an hour.  That means you get over an hour of awesome, pure zone-out glory.  And repetition can be a wonderful thing when attacked correctly.  Here, these dreamy soundscapes build and build until they break down into something awesome. As your Swole God, I command you to check this record out.

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3 Responses to “Day 171: Sigur Rós – Agætis byrjun”

  1. Dave Chops August 19, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    Don’t lose too much time learning Icelandic in the hope of extracting meaning from the lyrics, Swole. The lyrics are allegedly in “Hopelandic” – though this could be a scam to prevent would-be listeners from being discouraged by their inability to speak Icelandic:

    Vonlenska is a term used to describe the unintelligible lyrics sung by the band,[27] in particular by Jón Þór Birgisson. It is also commonly known by the English translation of its name, Hopelandic. It takes its name from “Von”, a song on Sigur Rós’s debut album Von where it was first used.

    Vonlenska is a non-literal language, without fixed syntax, and differs from constructed languages that can be used for communication. It focuses entirely on the sounds of language; lacking grammar, meaning, and even distinct words. Instead, it consists of emotive non-lexical vocables and phonemes; in effect, Vonlenska uses the melodic and rhythmic elements of singing without the conceptual content of language. In this way, it is similar to the use of scat singing in vocal jazz. The band’s website describes it as “a form of gibberish vocals that fits to the music”;[28]

  2. David Chops August 19, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    For your approval: Elton John’s apparent attempt at Vonlenska from the mid-1970s, I believe that an unfortunate cocaine habit may have been partly responsible http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFyvW4DYq88

  3. Yuanny Dollar August 22, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    I can’t really just sit and listen to this. I like it in the background, but not as much as Bryn Terfel singing in Welsh, so I guess it doesn’t make my playlist.

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