|Studio album by Sigur Rós|
|Released||12 June 1999|
|Recorded||August 1998 to April 1999|
|Label||Fat Cat, Smekkleysa|
|Sigur Rós chronology|
|Singles from Ágætis byrjun|
Ágætis byrjun (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈaːuɣaitɪs ˈpɪrjʏn] OW-gy-tiss BI-ar-yun, A good beginning) is the second album by the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, which was released in 1999. Ágætis byrjun was recorded between the summer of 1998 to the spring of 1999 with producer Ken Thomas, and became Sigur Rós's breakthrough album, both critically and commercially. Ágætis byrjun represented a substantial departure from the band's previous album Von, with that album's Cocteau Twins-esque dream pop and extended ambient soundscapes replaced by Jónsi Birgisson's now signature cello-bowed guitarwork and lush orchestration (using a double string octet amongst other orchestral elements).
The album's title came from a friend hearing the first song they had written for the album, which would become the title track. After hearing the song, he said it was "a good beginning"; the name stuck. The name has also been translated as "An alright start."
The ten songs on the album include some self-reference: the introduction contains backmasked parts from the title track, and the last song, "Avalon", consists of a different take of an instrumental passage from "Starálfur" slowed to around a quarter of its original speed. The strings in "Starálfur" itself are palindromic; they are the same forwards and backwards.
All vocals are sung in Icelandic, except for those on "Olsen Olsen" and the last section of the title track, which are sung in the gibberish language Vonlenska. Sigur Rós' subsequent album, ( ), used Vonlenska exclusively for its vocals.
The sketch on the cover was drawn by Gotti Bernhöft with a Bic Cristal ballpoint pen. The booklet cover for the CD edition of the album features the line: "Ég gaf ykkur von sem varð að vonbrigðum... þetta er ágætis byrjun" which translates to "I gave you (plural) hope that became a disappointment... this is a good beginning". This line is a reference to their two previous releases, Von and Von brigði.
While released to little fanfare, the album quickly gained radio exposure in Iceland, and spent the autumn of 1999 climbing the Icelandic album charts, finally resting at the top for a number of weeks. After surprising success in Iceland, the album subsequently gained strong international buzz with numerous articles in many prominent publications, hype from internet message boards and blogs, as well as often exuberant critical praise. Ágætis byrjun was released in the United Kingdom in 2000, and in the North American market in 2001 by Fat Cat Records. In 2001, Ágætis byrjun won the inaugural Shortlist Music Prize.
An acclaimed music video was made for "Viðrar vel til loftárása". The album's tracks have also been featured in soundtracks; "Starálfur" was used in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and the Emmy winning 2005 TV film The Girl in the Café. "Svefn-g-englar" was used in Vanilla Sky, amongst others. The song "Flugufrelsarinn" has been arranged by Stephen Prustman for the Kronos Quartet, and is available on their iTunes-only release Kronos Quartet Plays Sigur Rós.
In the Q and Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came #27 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums"
It was announced in 2009 that a deluxe edition would be released to mark the 10th anniversary of Ágætis byrjun's international release. However, since then, no other announcements have been made regarding the release of a deluxe edition.
|4.||"Flugufrelsarinn"||"The Fly's Savior"||7:48|
|5.||"Ný batterí"||"New Batteries"||8:06|
|6.||"Hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm)"||"The Heart Pounds (boom boom boom)"||7:08|
|7.||"Viðrar vel til loftárása"||"Good Weather for an Airstrike"||10:13|
|9.||"Ágætis byrjun"||"A Good Beginning"||7:39|
- * English translations not official.
- Jón Þór Birgisson – vocals, guitar
- Kjartan Sveinsson – keyboard
- Georg Hólm – bass
- Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson – drums
|United Kingdom||11 August 2000||Fat Cat||2LP||FATLP11|
|United States||22 May 2001||PIAS||CD||PIASA 01-02|
|United Kingdom||9 March 2009||Fat Cat||2LP||FATLP11X||180g vinyl, DMM|
- "sigur rós - lyrics". sigur-ros.co.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- "eighteen seconds before sunrise - sigur rós news » 2003 » January » 24". sigur-ros.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
- "sigur rós - trivia". sigur-ros.co.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- Allmusic review
- Robert Christgau review
- Pitchfork Media review
- PlayLouder review
- Rolling Stone review
- Slant Magazine review
- NME review
- 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..."
- "eighteen seconds before sunrise - sigur rós news » 2004» November» 29". sigur-ros.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- Pitchfork staff (2 October 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 20-1". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
- "100 Best Albums of the Decade". rollingstone.com. Rolling Stone. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2009-12-20.
- "sigur rós » discography » ágætis byrjun » ordering info & deluxe edition". Eighteen Seconds Before Sunrise, the Official Sigur Rós News Source. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
- The album's packaging leaves the first track untitled, though the band's website gives the piece the name "Intro". It has also been referred to by the band as "Nujryb sitægá" ("Ágætis byrjun" spelled backwards.)