This site too slow? Try a mirror  --  Subscribe to the Guide  --  Find artist:
the Ectophiles' Guide: * Guide Home* What's new* * Alphabetical* Genre* Commentator* Location* Random artist* Search* Contact the editors* Credits

Sigur Rós


Country of origin:

Iceland

Type of music generally:

Ethereal

Status:

Most recent release, Kveikur (2013)

See also:

Sigur Rós site

Wikipedia's Sigur Rós entry

See also The Ectoguide's page for Jonsi

Comparisons:

Portishead, Cocteau Twins, Radiohead, Bel Canto, My Bloody Valentine, Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Aphex Twin, Slowdive, Eno, Rose Chronicles

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Sigur Rós are great. Androgynous vocals and Cocteau-ish soundscapes. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

They sound like a cross between Radiohead and Cocteau Twins—an ambient Icelandic dreampop band with majestic male vocals. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

I ran across them in the form of a spellbinding, seriously gothic tune of theirs that was used on the soundtrack of One Point O. It felt like Bel Canto colliding with My Bloody Valentine, which is obviously a good thing. (drumz@best.com)

I highly recommend picking up Ágætis Byrjun as a first album instead of ( ). Not that ( ) is bad, but Ágætis Byrjun (which, appropriately enough, translates to something like "a good beginning") is a lot more immediately appealing, and if you like it you'll probably also like ( ). The nutty musical analogy I made when describing Sigur Rós to somebody the other day was "Cocteau Twins meets Pink Floyd", at least in the sense of having vocals that are there mainly for musical value rather than meaning, combined with a sort of rock concept-album feel.
  Speaking of buying, Sigur Rós should win some kind of award for most aggravatingly cryptic album packaging. ( ) contains no written material other than the handwritten band name and some obligatory copyright statements. Ágætis Byrjun is mainly recognizable for a drawing of something like an angel fetus on the black cover, and if you look closely on the spine you can just make out the title in tiny silver-gray print. The booklet inside has more drawings like that, a track listing that annoying obscures many letters in the song titles with a spirally thing, and all other written material in Icelandic (and, in fact, when I tried looking up a cddb entry for it, someone had apparently typed what look like the credits as song titles). Fortunately, the web site has complete track listings, and even lyrics (in Icelandic, of course) for those songs that have meaningful lyrics. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

Comments about live performance:

Last night's Sigur Rós concert at the 930 Club in DC was a display of awesome talent. For those who don't know, Sigur Rós is a band of Icelandic dream-pop merchants. Their music references all of the atmospheric greats—Eno, Pink Floyd, Cocteau Twins, Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Slowdive—while remaining wholly original. Like many "ethereal" bands, Sigur Rós's vocalist expresses himself in a private language; it's a unique technique, as he is the only male singer who does that. His voice is a tenor that keens into a swooping falsetto—very Jeff Buckleyesque. It's amazing to watch this powerful voice come out of such a wisp of a man. When he sings, he looks anguished. There were several times where I thought he was crying. He also plays an e-bowed guitar. At one point, he actually *sang* into the guitar, distorting his voice. The aesthetic of the concert was like a classical recital—nearly 2 hours, no breaks, the songs blending into each other. Which is appropriate, given the symphonic sounds the 4-piece conjured. A screen behind the band showed projections, mostly fuzzy, cyclic images of faces, children, birds and animals. The lighting was subdued, mostly purples, with the singer's face illuminated. Other words: oceanic, trancey, glacial. Though I was standing up—after being up since 5 in the morning, I hardly noticed the nagging pain in my leg. It was an utterly bewitching experience. (9/01, ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

Sigur Rós, from Iceland, put on a stunning 100+-minute set last night at the Lincoln Theatre here in Washington, DC. The crowd was 95% "young people" (I'm a crickety 44-year-old fart), and was very respectful and appreciative. After a crashing, thunderous finale, the crowd gave them a standing ovation for probably ten minutes, during which the band simply came out twice and bowed with great return appreciation. I found it quite moving. If you haven't heard about Sigur Rós, try to find some sound clips on the web. It's lovely, cerebral, emotive, plaintive, etc. What a great way to start the week, and end my string of four live shows in four nights (various artists). (mchapman@langley.edu.net)

Recommended first album:

Ágætis Byrjun or Takk...

Recordings:


Von

Release info:

1997

Availability:

Iceland

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Sigur Rosoacute;s fans only

Group members:

Jon Thor Birgisson
Orri Pall Dyrason
Georg Holm
Kjartan Sveinsson

Comments:

I'd just like to point out that Von is not like the much-acclaimed second album. Most tracks are...well, for lack of a better word, boring. There are two or three good songs on the disc, and the album does hint at the greatness which is to follow it, but that really is pretty much it. Most of the album consists of instrumental, quiet, ambient soundscapes which, while they certainly will disturb few ears, don't provide much anything to enthuse about, either. It's kinda like a really watered down My Bloody Valentine. I feel the urge to listen to most of Von pretty much like I feel the need to listen to my CD of humpback whales singing.
     Now, I'm not saying you or anyone else shouldn't get it—the couple of good songs might be worth the money, and of course it's good to support such a brilliant band—but you may want to think twice about it if you're not a Sigur Rós completist. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Von Brigdi/Recycle Bin

Release info:

1998

Availability:

Iceland

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Sigur Rós fans

Group members:

Jon Thor Birgisson
Orri Pall Dyrason
Georg Holm
Kjartan Sveinsson

Guest artists:

Remixes by Biogen, Mum, Plasmic, Ilo, Dirty-Bix, Curver, Hassbraedur, Thor, and Sigur Rós

Comments:

There exists a remix album of Von which I've been told is considerably better than the original. Haven't heard it though. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Ágætis Byrjun

Release info:

2000—FatCat Records, PO Box 18212, London, England EC1V 9XA—fatcd11

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Jon Thor Birgisson—guitar, vocals
Orri Pall Dyrason—drums
Georg Holm—bass
Kjartan Sveinsson—keyboards

Comments:

One of my favourite albums of the year. It is a gorgeous album although not anything that you can really sing along to. (gordodo@optonline.net)

It looks fantastic. (Sounds great too. Doesn't taste so good though.) There's not a word of English in it, but it's got beautiful packaging. Oddly, I discovered Sigur Rós roundaboutly through ecto. Someone asked about musicians from Iceland, and I went out searching. They were one of the people I found. Go figure.
     I never would have guessed that it would be released in the US (2 years after its Icelandic release), and be featured prominently in Vanilla Sky. This is some of the most haunting music I heard this year, and guaranteed to appeal to fans of Radiohead. The lyrics are all in Icelandic and Hopelandic (a made up language that is indistinguishable from Icelandic to my ears), and one of their hallmark sounds is a bowed violin. (neal)

I'd just like to second Craig and Neal's praise of Sigur Rós, and urge everyone to give it a try. I cited this album as one of the best (if not THE best) album I got last year, picking it up late in the year at the recommendation of a fellow music junkie who's usually into the more hardcore dance stuff, but who had fallen for the swooning epic beauty of Sigur Rós, and INSISTED I get the album.
     And I'm glad I did.
     Oh yes, glad.
     When I finally picked it up, I was enchanted. If you love music, buy this dream of an album. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

I like Sigur Roacute;s. Sigur Roacute;s is more of a sound envelope, reminding me of Rose Chronicles in that way. (But associations occur only because this hasn't yet made its own space in my brain.) The album art is cool and I might have bought it for that if I did that any more. Some tracks he is definitely intending his voice to be heard as an instrument; in others he may be trying to say something, if I only knew his language. This is one that will grow on me. (jwaite@ucsd.edu)


( )

Release info:

2002—Fat Cat Records/[Pias] Recordings (MCA)—0 08811 30912 1

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Jon Thor Birgisson
Orri Pall Dyrason
Georg Holm
Kjartan Sveinsson

Guest artists:

Maria Hald Markan Sìgfusdóttir—strings and arrangements
Sólran Sumarlifadóttir—strings and arrangements
Ólöf Júlia Kjartansdóttir—strings and arrangements
Edda Run Ólafsdóttir—strings and arrangements

Produced by:

Sigur Rós

Comments:

( ) is majestic, epic, sweeping, dreamy. The singer, Jonsi, comes as close as possible to creating the same swoony feeling that Elizabeth Fraser and Lisa Gerrard are capable of, he is a male voix mysteriouse. He sounds like a male angel. For fans of Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Radiohead. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

Another interesting album of noise that isn't a whole lot different than their first. Still beautiful, but somehow not as fresh sounding as their first. (jjhanson@att.net)

Okay. The album has no title (though the band was kind enough to use typographic symbols on the cover to make it slightly easier to type). The songs have no titles. (burka@jeffrey.net)

I loved the last one, but this is one SERIOUSLY dull wash of pointless—albeit beautiful—dirge. I keep hoping I'll get into it, but don't think I've managed to listen to it all the way through yet. It's one of those albums, so formless, that I'm not sure I'd know if I had. I should stress that I did REALLY love the last one; it was one of my fave albums of the year when it came out. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

After several listens, I haven't managed to really get into ( ) yet. I read in an interview that the band wanted to put the focus on the music with this new album, and they've done that. With no pronounceable title, no track names (you can't even decipher the pictures in the album art—reeds? marsh?) the listener is left with nothing to hang onto except the music.
     There is still a lot of beautiful music here. Some of the early songs sound, in a way, like modern hymns (part of it is the pacing). But towards the middle/end of the album, it's all starting to wash together, and I'm wondering if I haven't heard these songs before earlier in the album. But then the last couple of songs have more of a rock sound that's interesting and different.
     So maybe it's just uneven, or maybe I'm still getting into it. It's worth picking up if you were a fan of Ágætis Byrjun, but not the best place to start. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I got () last year, and while I suspect that's what is referred to as "Radiohead colliding with some faceless new age outfit", all in all I rather liked it, although I have to be in a certain mood to want to listen to it. I've been intending to look for some of their other stuff since it sounded like it could be even better. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)


Sigur 1/Sigur 9 single

Release info:

2003—Fat Cat Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Comments:

The 3 new tracks on this single from ( ) are warbling, wandering sonic experiments. I don't dislike them, but they're not nearly as compelling as the album pieces.
     The reason to buy this set is for the accompanying DVD of 3 videos. These are beautifully shot mini art films exploring joy and pain and innocence. In them Sigur Rós's music becomes the soundtrack to our lives. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Takk...

Release info:

2005—Universal Music Publishing

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Jon Thor Birgisson
Orri Pall Dyrason
Georg Holm
Kjartan Sveinsson

Guest artists:

amína (Hildur Ársœlsdóttir, Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir, Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Sólrún Sumarliþadóttir)—strings; string arrangement on "Gong" Kristín Lárusdóttir, Jlía Mogensen—cellos
Stefanía Ólafsdóttir, Eyjólfur Bjarni Alfreþsson—violas
Ingrid Karlsdóttir, Gréta Salóme Stefánsdóttir, Matthías Stefánsson, Ólöf Júlía Kjartansdóttir—violins
Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson, Snorri Sigurþarson—trumpets
Helgi Hrafn Jónsson, Samúel Jón Samúelsson—trombones
Össur Geirsson—tuba
Frank Aarnink—percussion/timpani on "Sé Lest"
Álafosskórinn—choir on "Hoppípolla"
Helgi R. Einarsson—choir direction

Produced by:

Sigur Rós, Kenneth Vaughan

Comments:

Absolutely gorgeous. Of any of their work I find the most emotional connection to Takk... (JoAnn Whetsell)

It is indeed beautiful, and I've been listening to it quite a bit. But I find that particularly with the shorter songs, compared to the material on (), it doesn't have the same emotional range. I love the dynamics on (), the way the pieces build, becoming more powerful through their long duration. I don't get that same sense from Takk.... But of all their albums, it might make the best introduction to newcomers. (burka@jeffrey.net)


Sæglópur

Release info:

2006—The Worker's Institute/Filter US Recordings—FILT0008

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans

Comments:

The three new songs on Sigur Rós' latest EP are minimalist and haunting, very different from the driving sound of Takk. They're wonderful, but the DVD is still the stronger disc. Beautifully filmed and emotionally intense, the three videos are visual and aural treats. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Hvarf/Heim

Release info:

2007—XL Recordings—6 34904 03072 8

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

Hvarf/Heim is a set of two discs that should be considered near-essential by fans. Hvarf is the electric record, with three previously unreleased songs and two reworked tracks from Von. Heim is the live, acoustic record. Both are gorgeous. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I agree with JoAnn: both are gorgeous. I always start listening to Sigur Rós thinking I know what they're going to do, and each time they re-capture my close attention with something just a little bit captivating, just a little bit new. That's definitely the case here with both of these discs. (Neile)


Með Suð I Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

Release info:

2008—xlcd S64

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Jon Thor Birgisson
Orri Pall Dyrason
Georg Holm
Kjartan Sveinsson

Guest artists:

E.R. Ólafsdóttir, H. Ársælsdóttir, M.H.M. Sigfúsdótottir, S. Sumarliðadóttir—strings (2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9)
E Friðfirnnsson, H.H. Jóasson, I. G. Erlendsson, K Hákonarson, S. J. Samúelsson, S. Sigurðarson, S.J. Bernaharðsson—brass (2, 4, 11)
London Sinfonietta—symphony (7)
Choristers of the London Oratory School Schola—vocals (7)
Siggi Frendi, Haddi Gunni, John Best, Sunray and Breeze—tambourine, claps, and other noise

Produced by:

Flood and Sigur Rós

Comments:

I love all their albums, but this one especially. It's a little rocking and lively but still their trademark dreamy sound. Definitely one of the best releases of the year. (Neile)

The band continues to push the envelope of what they can do. Takk... is a classic—I hope others here would agree—and I doubted the boys could outdo themselves. But they did. This is a joyful, exciting album. Complex songs filled with beautiful layers of sound. Jonsi's voice continues to evolve. I love the way he's embracing the soaring heights he can take it to. And I love the variety of songs, ranging from completely stripped down ("All Alright"), to beautifully full ("Godan daggin"), to ridiculously over-the-top ("Ara batur"). They can do it all. (lasherboy@gmail.com)


Inni

Release info:

2011—XL Recordings

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

Inni may not be essential listening for Sigur Rós fans, but it may very well be essential viewing. The DVD combines black and white 2008 concert footage and color archival footage from 1999 to 2008. Sometimes shadowy, sometimes grainy, with close-ups of facial expressions and of band members playing their instruments. You don't so much get an audience member's perspective as the film mostly eschews wide shots of the stage in favor of close-ups of facial expressions and of band members playing their instruments. This is actually really cool, to see hands attacking piano keys or drums. The CD itself is fine, but somehow I don't have the same emotional experience listening to it as I do watching the DVD or even listening to the band's studio albums. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Valtari

Release info:

2012—XL Recordings—XLCD570

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

Valtari is Sigur Rós's quietest album to date and has less vocals than previous albums, but it is quite beautiful. Some of it sounds like hymns ("Dauðalogn" for example). But much of it sounds like Sigur Rós. There are moments of the kind of building intensity that Takk... had, although fewer of them, and some songs remind me of "Ára Bátur" on Með Suð I Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust. (JoAnn Whetsell)

There are many calm and peaceful moments on Valtari, the band's most gentle and ambient project. So, why have I listened to it so little? It feels similar to Riceboy Sleeps, the wonderful side project of Jonsi and Alex—but Valtari lacks some of the warmth and emotion of Riceboy Sleeps. Valtari is not a bad album, and it's possible my affection for it will grow over time, but for now I see it as a mildly successful album from a band trying to find a new identity. (lasherboy@gmail.com)


Kveikur

Release info:

2013—XL Recordings—6 34904 06062 6

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

Disappointment. (lasherboy@gmail.com)

It took me a long time to appreciate this album, years in fact. I'd pull it out every once in a while for a listen and wouldn't make it all the way through. Then one day it clicked. The music is far more aggressive than their previous work, even noise/industrial on nearly half the tracks. I doubt it will become one of my favorite Sigur Rós albums, but I do like it, and I look forward to seeing where the band takes their new trio format in the future. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Further info:

Valtari Film Experiment (DVD) appeared in 2013. Sigur Rós released the book In a Frozen Sea: A Year with Sigur Rós in 2008. The DVD Heima was released in 2007. Their songs appear on the following: Englar Alheimsins (Angels of the Universe) soundtrack (2 new songs); SPEX #2 compilation; NME—Come On Try Young compilation; Popp í Reykjavík soundtrack; Smekkleysa hálfa öld compilation (song under the English name "Victory Rose"), Vanilla Sky soundtrack; One Point O soundtrack; "Staralfur" from Ágætis Byrjun in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

Why the ads?


Artists commented on by
jjhanson @ att.net

121 - 160 of 173 entries

<<  Ad-Co  Cr-Ho  Hy-Ni  No-To  Va-Yo  >>

Click the bullet for speed (drop the menu) or the name for convenience (keep the menu)


>
Stina Nordenstam

>
Heather Nova

>
Marianne Nowottny

>
Margot O'Breslin

>
Sinéad O'Connor

>
October Project

>
Beth Orton

>
Joan Osborne

>
Perfume Tree

>
Poe

>
Portishead

>
Potion

>
Rasputina

>
Renaissance

>
Happy Rhodes

>
Eliza Rickman

>
The Roches

>
Wendy Rule

>
Mary Lydia Ryan

>
Sabrina

>
Max Sharam

>
Richard Shindell

>
Shivaree

>
Jane Siberry

>
Sigur Rós

>
Sixteen Horsepower

>
Sarah Slean

>
Margot Smith

>
Patti Smith

>
Casey Stratton

>
The Sundays

>
June Tabor

>
Vienna Teng

>
Anna Ternheim

>
Jennifer Terran

>
This Mortal Coil

>
Tracey Thorn

>
Rebecca Timmons

>
Katie Todd

>
Emiliana Torrini

<<  Ad-Co  Cr-Ho  Hy-Ni  No-To  Va-Yo  >>


Other Commentators...
the Ectophiles' Guide: * Guide Home* What's new* * Alphabetical* Genre* Commentator* Location* Random artist* Search* Contact the editors* Credits

DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2016-07-20 19:10:38.
Please request permission if you wish to
reproduce any of the comments in the
Ectophiles' Guide in any context.

The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music is copyright © 1996-2004 by the editors.
Individual comments are copyright © by their authors.
Web site design and programming copyright © 1998-2004 usrbin design + programming.
All rights reserved.