Music Geek #16: 10 years of Agaetis Byrjun

Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun

Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun

While I can’t say I’ve been listening to Sigur Ros for ten years (I’m only 23, after all,) the anniversary of Agaetis Byrjun still holds a notable impact in my development of musical tastes. When I first heard this album, I was an impressionable 15-years old and only beginning to realize the breadth and depth of music at my digital fingertips (ah, a pun!)

It introduced me to a world of post-rock and soaring, dynamic soundscapes — and though I wasn’t necessarily unfamiliar with the latter, the Icelandic outfit took it to a logical extreme I hadn’t yet witnessed. This, I thought, was music that made me feel emotional, excited, happy, sad; truthfully, the state of emotion didn’t much make a difference, but the magnitude. As a happy teen listening to Agaetis Byrjun, the album took on a bright, shimmery light; as an occasionally angst-ridden 16-year-old, the album came in a more sad, depressed form. As a teen who avoided some of the emotional highs and lows of his peers (though I wasn’t without fault, by any means) Sigur Ros gave me something to feel when I didn’t want to worry about feeling other things.

Agaetis Byrjun was as much an escape as it was a gateway drug into a convoluted world of inventiveness. It wasn’t long after I started listening to the group that ( ) was released, which certainly sped things along, but this album is what kicked it off.

I’ve ascribed my first experience with a Sigur Ros live show as one of the few moments of overwhelming aesthetic arrest  — like that thing many others have called simple spirituality or inspiration, but undoubtedly stronger:

“This supreme quality is felt by the artist when the esthetic image is first conceived in his imagination. The mind in that mysterious instant Shelley likened beautifully to a fading coal. The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image, is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure, a spiritual state very like to that cardiac condition which the Italian physiologist Luigi Galvani, using a phrase almost as beautiful as Shelley’s, called the enchantment of the heart.”

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

It illustrates my relationship with Sigur Ros in a necessarily convoluted way: I doubt much I could put in plain words the impact the experience has had on my musical journey, lest I delve into lines of mystical nonsense.

The beautiful thing, ten years later, is that the album has held a decade-influencing impact — a decade that’s seen Sigur Ros scale musical heights with the utmost precision, clarity, and grace.

2 Responses to “Music Geek #16: 10 years of Agaetis Byrjun”

  1. jackieM says:

    Love Sigur Ros :o)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.