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Ag‘tis Byrjun
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  • This stately Iceland rock outfit took the alternative-music world by storm with its second album, AGAETIS BYRJUN--a haunting, eloquent, 76-minute instant classic. Frontman Jon Por Birgisson sings in a language he calls "Hopelandic" (a combination of Icelandic and his own angelic calling), over the lyrical ebb and flow of feedback-drenched guitar, gushing keyboards, gently driving bass, and drums that crash like the surf of an alien ocean. After a droning beginning, the curtains suddenly part with "Svefn-G-Englar," revealing a sound as wide open and exhilarating as Iceland's landscape. Later, the mournful violin and slowly cascading beats of "Flugufrelsarinn" give way to ghostly horn sections, orchestral crescendos, stretches of silence, crashing dissonance, sad piano lines, and a Radiohead-esque dip into the realm of rock on "Olsen Olsen." The breathtaking scope and emotional richness of this outing turned Sigur Ros into an overnight success. Within a year of AGAETIS BYRJUN's release on the small British label Fatcat Records, the band went from obscurity to selling out major venues, scoring films, and signing with MCA, who re-released the album to even wider acclaim.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (1/4/01, p.116) - Included in Rolling Stone's "Top 50 Albums of 2000".

Rolling Stone (9/28/00, p.61) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...The most bizzarely beautiful import from Iceland since Bjork..."

Spin (1/01, p.73) - Ranked #13 in Spin's "Top 20 Albums of the Year [2000]".

Spin (10/00, pp.177-8) - 8 out of 10 - "...All midnight-sun and bummed-Viking angst. Jon or Birgisson's lovely, breathless vocals glide over guitar clouds, and drums boom along at a languid pace as the songs slowly approach bliss-out..."

Magnet (p.118) - "The album' mixture of cello-bowed guitar, sugar-frosted strings and heavenly human choruses would have a huge impact on tourmates Radiohead, whose ice-age anti-statement KID A remains indebted to this mini-masterpiece."

CMJ (10/30/00, p.22) - "...Deep, almost primordial beauty....It doesn't get much more sublime than this."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.58) - Ranked #70 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "So captivatingly diffuse, AGAETIS BYRJUN sounds as though it was beamed in from 1,000 years ago."

NME (Magazine) (12/30/00, p.79) - Ranked #35 in NME's "Top 50 Albums Of The Year" - "...The shoegazing soundtrack to frozen skies and magma flows..."
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