Monday, Feb. 20, 8 p.m.
When one thinks of the remote European island of Iceland, many things come to mind. For one, Iceland is home to volcanoes, fjords and an otherwise harsh coastline, which give probable reason to why the island has remained in solitude throughout most of its civilized existence. Besides the ghostly yet beautiful landscapes there is also a hermetic belief in the supernatural. These aspects of Icelandic culture are undoubtedly influential on the art it creates, experimental band Sigur Rós being a good example.
Formed in 1994, Sigur Rós — which consists of present-day members Jónsi Birgisson (vocals/guitar), Orri Páll Dyrason (drums), Kjartan Sveinsson (keyboards) and Geory Goggi Holm (bass) — has come a long way to become one of the few Icelandic bands to break through into mainstream success. Their 1999 album Ágætis Byrjun was voted “Album of the Century” in Iceland, while the 2002 album (), or the bracket album, received an MTV Video Award for Best Rock Video. Soundtracks are also something they have added to their repertoire, recording the music for Loch Ness Kelpie and Hlemmur.
Aside from some commercial success, the real apex of the band’s accomplishments comes from the hauntingly surreal ambience that pours out through your speakers when you listen to their music. For example, on “untitled #8,” from the album (), the dreary, yet angelic croonings of Birgisson liquefy into an atmospheric thunderstorm created by Dyrason and Holm, while the guitar and keyboards pillow the soundscape with clouds that echo in resonance. On all of their music, Sigur Rós does a first-rate job of blending electronic capabilities, earthy tones and an eerie presence to personify the isolation from the rest of the world they embody.
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