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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Ágætis Byrjun

Sigur Rós

1999

Buy At Rough Trade
Ágætis Byrjun
Album Summary

Ágætis byrjun (Icelandic: [ˈaːucaitɪs ˈpɪrjʏn], A good beginning) is the second studio album by Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, released on 12 June 1999. The album was recorded between the summer of 1998 and the spring of 1999 with producer Ken Thomas. Ágætis byrjun represented a substantial departure from the band's previous album Von, with that album's extended ambient soundscapes replaced by Jónsi Birgisson's cello-bowed guitarwork and orchestration, using a double string octet amongst other chamber elements. Ágætis byrjun became Sigur Rós's breakthrough album, both commercially and critically. It received a 2000 release in the United Kingdom and a 2001 release in the United States. According to their label Smekkleysa, the album sold 10,000 copies on its first year of release in Iceland, earning the band platinum status. It won numerous awards, and has appeared on multiple critics' lists of the best albums of the 2000s. Ágætis byrjun is the band's first album to feature keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, and their last to feature drummer Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson, who left the band several months after the album was released. Gunnarsson was replaced by Orri Páll Dýrason in the same year.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.37

Votes

13697

Genres

  • Rock

Reviews

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Fri Mar 05 2021
5

oh wooooaaaaaaw this is the kind of thing I was hoping to find on this excursion. An unusual and exotic band, something I have never heard before and instantly have a connection with. I really enjoyed this, and can't understand a word he is singing... but somehow I get it. Isn't music just amazing. gibberish out of 5

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Mon Jun 21 2021
5

The sound of midnight in the wintertime, being alone without being lonely, a calm darkness with nothing insidious hiding in it. Absolutely marvelous.

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Sun Oct 30 2022
2

The most demanding album I've come across so far on this generator. 1. It demands to be listened to with headphones. 2. It demands to have your undivided attention, while doing very little to grab it and hold on to it. 3. It demands you stay awake throughout the album, which too is no easy feat. 4. It demands you look up the English translations and make an attempt to decipher it's cryptic lyrics to follow the themes and stories. 5. It demands that you be in a certain type of melancholic, vegetative mood, but again, do not drift off to sleep! I'm sure for the listeners able to meet the above 5 demands, it would be a very rewarding listen. Unfortunately for me, I could only really meet 2/5 on any given day.

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Tue May 04 2021
5

Ágætis Byrjun is a triumph of engineering and arrangement, but most of all, it's a triumph of imagination. For sure, you can trace Sigur Ros' antecedents in My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai, and other similar post-rock bands, as well as ambient and industrial music, but the widescreen cinematic dreamscapes of Sigur Ros are unique to them. How do they pull it off? It sure isn't the melodies and the harmonies, which are standard issue. It's more the ever so patient accrual of layers of bowed guitar, keyboards, strings and horns, all played legato, and how all of it is recorded through echo and reverb and other production tricks. The breakout track is the title cut Svefn-g-englar, which steadily builds to an epic conclusion slowly dying away. At over ten minutes, it's long for a pop tune, but the running time goes by in a flash because the music lulls you into a trance state. Not all the tunes on Ágætis Byrjun are as timeless and wonderful, but there's plenty to enjoy here. Ágætis Byrjun is an amazing breakthrough which has inspired dozens of bands--the reverberations are still being felt today. 4.5/5

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Mon Nov 01 2021
5

Ágætis byrjun by Sigur Rós (1999) It’s a rare album that can induce tears on a first listen, but this is it. A first person narrative beginning in the womb, a boy anticipates nativity with an awareness of transience, reticence, impatience, and the explosive violence of birth, followed by experiences of the comforting softness in his early sensations. Then, as a toddler, an awakening in his nursery room is marked by the image of an elf running toward him, strangely without getting closer. And in his reflexive effort to check his surroundings, he notices that something is missing—the walls. And we’re only four minutes into the third track. I strongly recommend listening to this album while following an English translation of the lyrics (unless, of course, you know Icelandic!). The dramatic development of the narrative is set to a composition that makes just enough contact with Western traditional music to keep it accessible, with string octet, bowed guitar, and brass ensemble providing the dominant settings. Not without horror, disappointment, and reverie, Sigur Rós walks us toward a celebratory contentment with what God provides. I won’t spoil any more of the experience of a first listen, other than to say that this slow tempo sonic masterpiece will take considerable time to absorb. En það verður ei gott að fórna sér Dagarnir eru langir (But someone has to sacrifice himself The days are long) 5/5

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

Sigur Ros is Icelandic for Sugar Ray.

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Fri Aug 06 2021
2

Agaetis Byjurn and Godspeed You! Black Emperor are 2 of the most well received records that do absolutely nothing for me. I know the orchestration sounds terrific, and the strings, pianos, flutes create beautiful harmonies, but it's just incredibly boring to me. I will not listen to 9 minutes of pretentious ambient noises to wait for a climax that won't come, in a language that I don't understand again, to see why people love this so much. 2/5.

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Thu Mar 25 2021
5

-Aged very well -Calm and soothing -Clear production -Easylistening

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Sat May 01 2021
1

Unremarkable orchestral stuff with dreary guitar stuff and whiny vocals. I saw these guys live when I was going through a brief post-rock phase. They put on a big visual spectacle show, but I honestly can't remember what I ever enjoyed about the music. I guess it felt like serious, artistic music to me at the time, and I was a try-hard. But it's really the most insipid elements of ambient, classical and rock brewed together into a weak and unsatisfying infusion. Couple of interesting brass moments, and one or two tracks were the vocals actually sound alright - but these are dribbles of interest in an overlength ocean of tedium.

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Mon Jun 21 2021
5

Ethereal Millenial Soundscape. Very cool all around, a little hard to listen to all the time. Very, Very good though.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
2

I thought I would like this more than I did.

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Mon May 30 2022
2

A womb with a view. I eat placenta on a daily basis. It goes best with vinegar and brown rice. Yum.

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Mon Aug 29 2022
2

Listening to this album, waiting for something that never happens. Letdown.

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Thu Jun 17 2021
4

Vous qui fréquentez ce site connaissez très bien mes goûts et ma personnalité. Et je pense qu'aucun d'entre vous n'aurait parié sur le fait que je puisse adorer cet album. C'est pourtant ce qui s'est passé. J'ai néanmoins été déçu d'apprendre que les paroles qu'ils baragouinaient n'étaient en rien de l'Islandais mais bien une langue inventée de toute pièce, ce qui ne m'a pas empêché de relever quelques fautes de grammaire.

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Thu Apr 08 2021
5

Highlights: Starálfur, Flugufrelsarinn, Viðrar vel til loftárása I have no idea what they're saying, or what language (It's Icelandic, in case you were wondering) but it doesn't make any difference because Sigur Rós' moody, atmospheric downtempo transcends language, invoking a sense of wonder and serenity. I can't help but to try and connect with the music...My own interpretation is that Starálfur ("Staring Elf") transports the listener to a celebratory fireworks display so lifelike, you can almost smell the sulfur and feel the night breeze on your cheeks. Flugufrelsarinn ("The Fly's Savior") continues later in the same night, deeper in the dark, at the water's edge. My interpretations don't really matter, though... This is right at home with the likes of Halou, Flunk, Zero 7, and Theivery Corporation, and will be including more in my downtempo playlists.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
5

Coincidentally been listening to this (for the first time) recently. Very chilled and cohesive. Definitely added to my favourites.

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Wed May 12 2021
5

https://www.stereogum.com/2047135/sigur-ros-agaetis-byrjun-turns-20/reviews/the-anniversary/

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Sun May 30 2021
5

goated, if only their other albums were as consistent as this

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Thu Dec 30 2021
5

Familiar with a couple of Sigur Rios songs but first time listening to this album, wow, so atmospheric absolutely a masterpiece. Can see me listening to this a lot this year.

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Thu Nov 24 2022
5

Ugh, I really love this. It definitely helps to listen to this as an album in its entirety. Turn the sound way up and let the whole thing wash over you in its sublime majesty. The whole album is solid, with big melancholic soundscapes throughout, and flashes of searing beauty (notably with songs like Starálfur). The long tracks go by so quickly. I love everything about this. The album art, the concept, everything.

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Wed Dec 20 2023
5

Incredibly atmospheric and moving, achieved exclusively through tone and texture. Sung in Icelandic and gibberish, I didn't understand a word but was still moved almost to tears. An otherworldly masterpiece. Rating: 5/5 Playlist track: Svefn-g-englar Date listened: 19/12/23

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Tue Apr 09 2024
5

I have absolutely no idea what this is, and I love it. Whenever I see an album from the late 90s pop up that I've never heard of before, I can't help for my initial reaction to be dread. I have received so much shit from that era from really underground bands and artists to the point where I just assume that I've discovered all the good music from the late 90s, and everything else sucks. But this album has proved me wrong. Every song rewards you for listening to the whole thing, and slowly builds until it reaches an epic climax. Even though I don't speak a word of Icelandic, the intensely passionate delivery of the vocals makes me love them. I initially found it daunting that this album was 10 songs and 71 minutes long, that means that each song averages at about 7 minutes. But you know what, if anything that's the best part of it. Being able to really explore every sound in every song to such depth, and slowly add layers that build perfectly throughout the songs. I never would have thought that I would have fallen in love with this album as much as I have, but I do love occasionally getting a reminder that there is still music out there that I have never heard of that is still this amazing. It's so easy to get caught up in always listening to the same things and not realising how much music there actually is in the world that's still really good. But hey, I suppose that's the reason we are all doing this album list at the end of the day.

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Tue Apr 09 2024
5

I'm hoping this isn't the only Sigur Ros. I've seen them live a few times. Spent a good chunk of my late teens/early 20s listening to them. Very special place in my heart.

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Tue Apr 09 2024
5

Solid. By coincidence this album was recommended on North American eclipse day 2024. Excellent soundtrack for an eclipse.

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Thu Apr 11 2024
5

Riktigt bra, skönt sound och fina melodier. Tror bara att jag inte lyssnat på vissa låtar tillräckligt men annars är det nog en av de bättre jag har rateat.

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Sat Apr 13 2024
5

I thought a whole album of Sigur Ros would be too repetitive for me, but wow I just get so emotional listening to this music. There is something transcendental about it.

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Tue Apr 16 2024
5

Beautiful This album is truly beautiful. I have the same feelings towards it as i did to Melody AM and Vespertine. It's anthemic, makes you wanna run through a field with your arms up in the air, embracing life. its just absolutely beautiful i think im going 5, i will come back to this record often, i hope

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Tue Apr 23 2024
5

I have no idea what they are singing about but I loved this already years ago... Great album

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Thu Apr 25 2024
5

Really good album, did not expect something so good so soon.

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Wed May 01 2024
5

Just gorgeous and genre-defining. A big part of my mid-2000s.

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Fri May 03 2024
5

I really liked this. The ambient portions of the overall sound make me want to replay Disco Elysium.

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Mon May 06 2024
5

Otra sorpresa, no porque no conozca la banda sino por el reto de escuchar por primera vez un disco completo de Sigur Rós. Súper relajante, para estar tirado en una cama o en un sillón, sólo concentrado en la música que suena. Ambiental, noventoso en detalles sutiles que recuerdan a Radiohead (el mejor ejemplo es Flugufrelsarinn). Tiene canciones épicas, como Hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm) y Viðrar vel til loftárása. Tiene todo para un viaje emotivo. Introspectivo. Pienso que también son necesarias estas instancias de desconexión: sobre todo en Argentina. ¿Está mal que el arte sea, de vez en cuando, un escape?

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Mon May 06 2024
5

The beauty of this music is not only found in the structure and instrumentation, but furthermore exist in the audiences interpretation.

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Mon May 13 2024
5

Used to listen to this to fall asleep, I mean that in the best way

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Tue May 14 2024
5

Very happy to see this album on here. I love Sigur Ros and this album especially. You do need to be in a certain mood to listen to them though. Glad it was gloomy today.

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Tue May 14 2024
5

Agaetis Byrjun is the brilliant debut album from Sigur Ros. Their music is very difficult to categorize - first, they are from Iceland. They are a rock band that makes elegant ballads and soundscapes. Their lead singer, Jonsi, sings in a melodic falsetto, and is accompanied by a rock band and at times, an orchestra. They layer ambient electronic effects to create the full, rich sound of their songs. Agaetis Byrjum was the album that made Sigur Ros into international stars. Their unique sound propelled the band to near-universal critical success, and world-wide commercial success.

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Sat Jun 08 2024
5

-it feels like a dream converted into an album -orchestral -beautiful -atmosphehric -love the themes of childbirth and naivity -this is (near) perfect -I almost started crying -favourite songs: Svefn-g-englar (<3), Starálfur, Ný batterí, Hjartað Hamast (<3), Viðrar vel til loftárása (<3), Olsen Olsen (<3), the title track (<3) -least favourite song: Intro

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Mon Apr 19 2021
4

Ooh, this was honestly the definition of atmospheric. Made me feel at peace. Singer is brilliant. 4.

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Mon Dec 07 2020
4

Feel like I aged 100 years listening to this. In a good way

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Tue May 23 2023
4

I thought, for some reason, this was going to be a Hispanic rock band. Heard the name before and I guess that’s what came to mind. It’s not. Icelandic melodic dreamy music. I really like this.

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Tue Jul 04 2023
4

To be transparent here my review may be inflated by me being in the optimal situation to hear this album. I had a 40 minute walk home after work at 1 am. Turned this one on and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a more beautiful album. All of the instrumentals just had a way of evoking emotion. It was long for sure and I do kinda wish it was in English but when a albums speaks to me in this was I’m more willing to overlook that. Weird one to rate cuz there’s not songs with replay value and I don’t know when I’m gonna listen to it again but I just had a 5/5 experience listening. Best: the first four tracks (not including intro)

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Thu May 09 2024
4

Bands like Sigur Rós - I've never heard of them before today - are exactly the reason why I like the 1001 site. It provides me the opportunity to expand my horizons and listen to something new and different. Two tracks, "Olsen olsen" and "Ágætis byrjun", are truly beautiful.

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Fri Jun 18 2021
3

Strange. Some songs are too long and drone along at the same tempo for way too much time. Length is an issue overall. I have no problem with long songs, I just don’t need to listen to 10 of them in a row. This was ok, but I’ll never go back to it.

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Wed Feb 22 2023
3

This album is a snoozefest... but it sounds beautiful and has great production. If you like loooooong instrumental, dreamy songs with random singing , then you will love this. It is unfortunately not my thing, cool fetus though.

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Tue Mar 12 2024
3

Music to stare at icebergs to.

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Sat Apr 17 2021
2

This album starts off like a tornado and smacks you in the chops. It’s loud and brash and in your face. It’s thrashy and punky and a little bit screamy. Normally this combination would induce an excited curiosity from myself and these tracks did just that...but that was all. I just can’t find anything worthwhile or standoutish. The songs speed along happily enough, but leave you feeling unsatisfied and with an empty void. 2 Stars!

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Mon Dec 13 2021
2

When this was released I thought it was deep and emotional but upon relistening it appears fucking insufferable. Nice music, but those vocals? Drunken elves.

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Fri Jan 14 2022
2

This album is just too slow for my liking. Not really a fan.

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Fri Apr 08 2022
2

Mental icelandic orchestral cinematic sounds. The singing is a bit irritating. I liked the batteri and bamm bamm bamm

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Sat Aug 20 2022
2

You could probably sleep to this. Very slow, quiet songs. All in Icelandic or whatever.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
2

A little dull, sometimes repetitive. Cinematic, but what’s the point?

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Thu Jan 25 2024
2

One long beautiful dream scape....I couldn't get thru it. Sounded like a soundtrack for a stunning visual IMAX movie. Good background music for doing something.....

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Sat Mar 20 2021
1

I fell asleep. Tedious stuff that goes nowhere. I get what they're trying to do, it is not for me.

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Mon Jan 18 2021
1

pretty but just overall generic and boring

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Thu May 06 2021
1

I get a slow build but having to wait 20 minutes for anything resembling tempo was just annoying. An exercise in patience and futility.

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Sun Sep 25 2022
1

Long and Boring. That’s all I can say about this album.

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Tue Sep 15 2020
5

relisten. very pretty album! tracks 2-4 are basically perfect (9/10 but its a lame five point scale)

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Sun Sep 20 2020
5

Staralfur and Olsen olsen are personal standouts, but ALL are great.

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Fri May 21 2021
5

One problem that a lot of atmospheric albums have is a lack of discernible melody, which is not a problem here. They've successfully created soaring music that still qualifies as music, which is nice. I feel like I need more than one day to properly digest all of it, which is usually a very good sign. Here's a fun game to play if you only speak English, like I do: Try to figure out (without cheating) which songs are sung in Icelandic and which are sung in their made-up gibberish language. Best track: Olsen Olsen

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Thu Jan 14 2021
5

Ghostly and one of my all time favourites. Great band from the 2000s era.

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Tue Jul 13 2021
5

did not listen but is sigur ros cowboy

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Thu Feb 25 2021
5

Classic. My foray into post rock. I love this album.

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Thu Apr 01 2021
5

i absolutely love the ethereal dreaminess of the whole thing.

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Thu Jan 14 2021
5

Chillax music, great when high!

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Wed Feb 24 2021
5

Wie in einer behaglichen Kapsel echolotet man umwabert von Oxytocin Schwaden durch die Kathedralen von Drone, atmet tief und weit und tränenverhangen. Auf die Frage, welches Instrument man hiernach lernen möchte gibt es nur eine Antwort: Wal. 5.0

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Fri Feb 26 2021
5

very nice, unusual, but enjoyable

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

really liked this! Maybe 4.5 stars 1. cool intro music 2. I kept thinking this one was in English but the end that sounded like heartbeats getting faster was super cool 3. more heartbeat sounds and awesome strings, this is my favorite so far 4. I'm liking the wind sounds and how somber this one is. The vocals are really cool, this was my favorite of the album 5. started off so gentle, I liked that better than the heavy drums. Nice horns though 6. funky beat, I like it. the static at the end didn't feel particularly good 7. the beginning felt almost like when the sun comes out after a big storm?? I also liked the dissonant strings at the end 8. nice and chill 9. "Ágætis Byrjun" apparently means "good start" which I just think is sweet 10. the outro to this was super interesting

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Tue Mar 16 2021
5

Absolutely beautiful album from start to finish.

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Mon Apr 19 2021
5

Ben ik bevooroordeeld omdat ik al in IJsland ben geweest en ik mij spontaan de landschappen terug voor de geest haal bij het horen van deze muziek? Misschien...

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Wed Jun 30 2021
5

I already listen to and love Sigur Rós, but this was my first time listening to this album in full and wow, what a crown jewel this is. It’s poignant and pulls out this side of me that just makes me think “I’m glad to be human and that I’m on this Earth getting to experience so much beauty in the world”, which let me say is some corny BS I didn’t think my mind was capable of but hey there you go. Olsen Olsen I already knew and remains one of my favourites. Starálfur is one I hadn’t listened to before and I kept repeating it. It’s something I imagine could be transported on satellites across galaxies and a piece I believe should be among the first any other potential alien civilisations hear. I was listening to Hjartað Hamast on a walk, and after the build up and swell towards the middle, rain started pouring from the sky and I was smiling for the entire rest of my walk in the storm. These guys are masters of music symbolising inner peace and wondrous beauty.

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Tue Jun 15 2021
5

Very spacey? cool! genuinely so good. ny batteri was my favorite but the later songs in the album were super good too its all good

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Tue Jun 15 2021
5

beautiful and mesmerizing. sounded like the ocean.

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Mon Jul 05 2021
5

Sigur Ros, always a classic.

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Wed Jul 28 2021
5

Very nice! Haven't listened to this album yet, but quite a big fan. Definitely can tell that Bon Iver has been influenced by this.

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Wed Jul 28 2021
5

I love this album and play it regularly for relaxing, yet touching and inspiring background music.

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Tue Aug 03 2021
5

Love this album to death. 5/5

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Wed Sep 29 2021
5

Ive loved this album since the first time I listen to it. Someone once described it as "the sound of melting gold cascading down an iceberg" or something like that.

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Mon Oct 11 2021
5

How have i not heard this before? A treat start to finish.

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Sun Oct 17 2021
5

This was such a gateway album for me… I still remember the room I was sat in when I first heard it 20 years ago. Just perfection!

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Fri Oct 22 2021
5

You either love this dream pop Icelandic faerie stuff or you hate it. You can guess where I fall. (Re-listening to this album after over a decade brings back so much emotion… I almost cried for my lost youth during starálfur.)

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Fri Nov 12 2021
5

Quietly intense and beautiful.

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Fri Dec 03 2021
5

I remember the first time I heard this. When his voice comes in on the first song I'd not heard anything like it. Excellent

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

kyllä tää on varmaan kaunein albumi jonka tiedän.

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Thu Feb 17 2022
5

Listening to this makes me realize why I bought the head sets that I did and the speakers that I did. It evokes a sense of curiosity and fills me with cathartic energy... my own personal musings about leaving the work that i am tied to and exploring the world greater.

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