The mesmerising, hypnotic sound of ‘Njosnavelin’ – The Nothing Song. It is the untitled track #4 off Sigur Ros’s 2002 album ( ).
A compilation for the weekend. My favourite songs of 1999 in no particular order:
Ágætis Byrjun was the breakthrough album by our favourite Icelandic prog rocksters Sigur Rós. It was released in 1999 and critical acclaim ensued. Electronic, dreamy, ambient and instrumentally artistic, ‘Starálfur’ was one its many standout moments. It made everyone want to go Beyond The Wall and stare at the geysers.
The Icelandic band Kaleo would seem to be much more likely than a British songwriter to meet a North Atlantic humpback. But then this lot have made the unlikely move to Austin, Texas – no whales there. Like their fellow countryman Ásgeir, Jökull Júlíusson and pals predictably tap into the northerly sounds of Sigur Rós and Bon Iver with their atmospheric falsetto vocals. But at around the 90-second mark, their sound takes a turn that is more Americana than the likes of Justin Vernon, which makes the Mosfellsbaer-Austin journey a little more comprehensible. By the way, humpbacks all sing the same tune.
By 2002, it had become apparent that Sigur Rós were not the only Icelandic band making ethereal music. Like their compatriots, Múm’s sound is also seemingly shaped by the landscape of their home isle. Experimental, melodic, electronic and unconventional – it all culminates in a fragile treat. ‘Green Grass Of Tunnel’ provides a soothing start to the week.
An interlude. I came to Sigur Rós late through their first release for a major label, Takk. And while the long player is more famous for some of its instantly recognisable singles (i.e. ‘Hoppipolla’, Glósóli, Sæglópur), it is ‘Gong’ that I choose for its strings, Jonsi’s indecipherable Hopelandic lyrics and a blended Radiohead-Keane complexity. A sheer wonder, much like the album, from whence cometh this masterpiece.
In early summer 2006, I was on holiday in Dorset. In the middle of the holiday, I made the day trip to Cardiff to watch my boyhood team lose the FA Cup Final on penalties after a 3-3 draw. Just to punish myself further, when I got back to base that evening, I watched the highlights incredulously. BBC played ‘Hoppípolla’ (Icelandic for ‘Jumping into puddles’) during the end credits. It was so apt. I was late to the Sigur Rós bandwagon. Have they ever been better than this?