There was a while when I was in university where I would listen to a fair bit of Sigur Rós for the purposes of napping. If I am unable to sleep on an airplane, I will still reach for some of their albums with a preference for Agætis byrjun over ( ). Where Agætis byrjun is definitely a perfect listen if you want to drift off to some beautiful post-rock, ( ) doesn’t work as well as given the greater use of percussion and distortion – the percussion really kicking in during the more downbeat second half.
( ) does something that very few albums do though – have the entire thing sung in a fake language. Well, I say language – it’s not like Hopelandic has any meaning, instead this is very much an ethereal version of scat singing whose syllables are used to fit the melody. It makes for a brilliant contrast to have something so otherworldly being sung to something that, at times, gets closer to being a type of rock than being ambient.
One difficulty about talking about this album is… what do you call it. I guess you can refer to it at The Brackets Album in the great tradition of The White Album and most of Weezer’s output. But given the style of music, that name feels just too bog-standard. Then you have the tracks which are officially untitled, although we do have their nicknames.
Do I prefer the more uplifting first half? Yes I do, they feel like a magical human whale song – especially ‘Untitled #3 – Samskeyti’. Do I prefer Agætis byrjun as an album? Also yes, but I do think ( ) is better than their follow-up despite how amazing ‘Hoppípolla’ is. This is one of those bands I just circle back to every few years and I think it means I really should be giving the Jónsi solo works more of a go. Like, if I like Sigur Rós I should enjoy those works… right?