As sunlight seems to drown out and finally reach the sea bank, Ágætis byrjun is gorgeous from start to finish. Where the fairy tale style playing begins however is in the “Intro” where muffled vocals and the sculpting of a solemn, but still graceful curtain call remains.
Sigur Rós first makes their musical appearance on “Svefn-g-englar.” The Icelandic sonic capability begins with these immaculately soft organ keys from Kjartan Sveinsson that coincide with these fantastic uses of space on the backside. While nearly entirely atmospheric for the initial impact, “Svegn-g-englar” is nearly 10 minutes on the dot for sound and through the track; moments of apparitional beauty continue to strike.
Much of this beauty follows through Ágætis byrjun but still there is a desire to sink into the sea of performance that Sigur Rós sculpts. Using Jón Þór Birgisson’s higher pitched vocals and delivery, a majority of Ágætis byrjun is focused entirely on not seeming human-made. Instead, “Svefn-g-englar” is inscribed by the angels and composed by only the holiest of hands when in the studio.
Other pieces like “Ný batterí” are more of a freeform push toward the less structured as horn-esque instruments sporadically spark in the background. Truthfully, the only elements for much of the track are just Birgisson’s vocal timbre and guitars with slight rises or falls of keys. Georg Hólm on the bass makes a stunning introduction alongside Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson on the percussion with crashing cymbals and illustrious shouts into this void with the drumming. The low-tuned bass drum is powerful, but still never oversteps the boundary that Sigur Rós often keeps to be showered in charm.
One of the later tracks on the 10 track saga is “Olsen olsen” where the more straightforward approach audibly is welcome as a new direction. The lucid strings here are still gorgeous with flairs of flutes and runs of slight looks toward the bass from Hólm as methods of consistency.
While “Olsen olsen” is not the final track, there are methods that Sigur Rós uses that can easily close Ágætis byrjun without a worry in the mind. The audience has a spectacle in front of them, and the last bits of flute and restricted voices outside the window of the listener echoes on to be closure.
While seemingly otherworldly as a sound, Sigur Rós can articulate beauty and never worry about reaching too far into the abstract that the audience gets lost. Ágætis byrjun is the perfect blend of long-term endearment followed by second-hand desire.