Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sigur Rós / "Ágætis Byrjun"


It was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who wrote "music is the language spoken by angels." Such a statement, while beautiful, rings of hyperbole. After all, music, in particular pop music, is written, composed, and performed by people little different than anyone else. The differences among all humans are seemingly minimal, with genetic variation of less than 1%. How incredible, though, the difference one percent can make.


Sigur Rós must lie a nearly impossible number of standard deviations from the mean. Sure, this is certainly music made by humans, able to release and create the most human of emotions. However, it transcends humanity, despite the limitations created by it. When the first key is struck on "Svefn-G-Englar", though it is as simple of a musical action as one can think of, it races up your spine and immediately makes entrance into your mind. As Jónsi Birgisson slowly glides his bow across the string of his electric guitar while the sound gradually swells to a crescendo, it obliterates your conscious. There is only one thing, the music, and it is beautiful and all-encompassing. You close your eyes, and in that moment, the angels begin to speak to you. Birgisson's falsetto rises up and he coos words which, outside this context, mean nothing. They are in a fantasy language, Hopelandic, resembling any real language by coincidence only. However, within the environment created by this album, they paint a picture of magnificence and devastation. They carry you through a quiet Utopia, a world you inhabit internally.


Just as the soothing melodies bring you to the paragon of tranquility, Birgisson changes front. The cool relaxation of his vocals is supplanted by one of power and urgency, lowering his tone and bellowing out a siren cry, throwing you off while commanding the entirety of your attention. It's a blunt reminder of the ephemeral nature of this state, that Utopia will never permanently exist. The brief interlude slowly bleeds out, returning you to the arcadia you arrived from. The band imperceptibly fades out to a quiet static. In ten minutes, your mind has been opened, explored, and returned with an increased awareness of the world around you. This is just the first song. That eight more tracks remain carrying similar, but never repetitive, voyages makes this an album that is comprised of songs in name only. These aren't "songs", they're epiphanies and moments of self-realization. A reminder of all that is glorious in this world.


Surely Jónsi Birgisson is one of the most fortunate beings on this planet. After all, as Eileen Elias Freeman wrote, "how wonderful it must be to speak the language of the angels."


Rating: 10.0

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is really good. I picked it up last night and I still don't trully know what to think about it.

CoachDub said...

Erik,
Your review is beautifully written, compelling, and stirring. This is one of best and most interesting reviews I have ever read. Good work. A+.


Ummm... the word verification:
sukkqok
Sounds Thai to me

Kid C said...

Really? Wow! Thanks!

CoachDub said...

Don' thank me... thank blogger for making such a word verification.
:-)

CoachDub said...

Hmm... I just wrote don'

Kid C said...

I figured you were typing in dialect.

Josh said...

so hukriede, have you heard that times new viking album. it's pretty great

Kid C said...

I catch you drift, I haven't heard it yet, but I'll download it tonight. I'll likely review that instead of the Magnetic Fields' album, because the Fields' album really isn't very good.