9th January 2008
Eight years ago, I spent the Millennium Eve week in a tiny chocolate-box house by the lake in Reykjavik’s old town. I’d just split from my Icelandic girlfriend (Hi Erla) of two years, and I was down. Really down.
We were getting on though (still do), working stuff out, and she gave me an album by a band I’d never heard of called Sigur Rós (about whom I’ve written many, many times). This was some time before most folks in the UK had heard of them.
At 11 o’clock in the morning, I was leaning in the open doorway, hands in pockets, looking across the frozen lake to the snowy rooftops of the city beyond as the light slowly lifted. I put the CD on - loud - and listened to Ágætis Byrjun in its entirety for the very first time. In the still cold air I stood for 50 minutes, unaware I was frozen to the bone. If you asked me to draw a map of where everything was, and how everything around me was placed, I could do it right now. I remember every detail.
My whole mood lifted and I found some sort of peace, or a new beginning for the new millennium. That Ágætis Byrjun means (roughly) “new beginning” or “an alright start” just seems right somehow. I picked myself up right there. The best gift I ever received. Clever girl that Erla.
Anyway, it is now 2008. This acoustic version of the title track Ágætis Byrjun (and especially this version) from the new film Heima (also available on the album/soundtrack Heim) is currently my favourite thing in the entire world. Here’s the YouTube video of that performance that captures the Iceland I remember and love:
I’ll never tire of it. Never. Just thought I’d share the tale now that I feel liberated to write whatever I want here.
One of the most original, amazing bands out there. They love what they do, they love there fans and they love Iceland. One of my goals is to see them play in their native land. Heima is like, you favorite band meets the series Planet Earth. I can not say enough about it.
Iceland has always fascinated me. It seems such an elemental place, and every travel show or guide or person relates what a special atmosphere it has.
It is number one in places I would like to go.
# Peter Goddard responded on 9th January 2008 with...
Simple, stunning, beautiful and breathtaking. Music that puts you in a good place. So rare.
# Garth Oatley responded on 9th January 2008 with...
Visiting Iceland is on my to do list before I reach 40. This version of Ágætis Byrjun is sublime. It’s amazing how simple things like music can trigger moments in our lives.
I was just staring at iTunes, wondering what to put on this morning - but I think you’ve just decided for me. Now we just need some snow, and a frozen lake.
I’ll put them on the ‘Things we need for the office’ list.
There’s a comment on the YouTube page says “fucking perfect”. Couldn’t have put it better myself. My brother gave me Heima for Christmas and I adore it (thanks bro).
# Dumitru Tira responded on 10th January 2008 with...
Heim is an awesome cd, it’s like listening to my old favorites in a more zen(read: acoustic) way. Simply beautiful.
Well I never knew this…
# Simon Collison responded on 13th January 2008 with...
JamesM: Yep, but its annoying that journalists think its all sang in “Hopelandic”. The song Ágætis Byrjun is Icelandic for instance, as are many of the songs, although just because they’re in Icelandic doesn’t mean they make much sense - usually quite dreamy and about aeroplanes, windows or blue nights etc. One of the fan sites has translations, which will be more reliable than mine.
# lee responded on 14th January 2008 with...
They are indeed a great band,I saw them at the Astoria about 7 years ago as part of an NME show(I was actually there to see Beta Band),and they blew my mind,the whole place just stood there hypnotized,pretty awesome.By the way I have just finished “Beginning CSS Development”,and would like to say cheers for a bloody great book.
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