Skip to content

Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun (1999)

September 3, 2016

NordicCountriestunesNifty Nordic logo by Sarca @ Caughtmegaming

Nordic Artist #1: Björk
Nordic Artist #2: ABBA
Nordic Artist #3: Röyksopp
Nordic Artist #4: The Sugarcubes
Nordic Artist #5: Hanoi Rocks
Nordic Artist #6: Sigur Rós


[Album 471/1001]


It is my great pleasure to award the Nordic County of Iceland the distinguished title of Most 1001 Albums per Capita!

In 2005, my book’s publication year, with a population of about 300,000 people, Iceland contributed 5(!) albums to the 1001 list.

That works out to an average of 1 album per 60,000 people (conveniently ignoring that Björk was involved in 4 of the albums).

To put that (misleading but narrative-friendly) stat in perspective, in that same year, The United States had a population of approximately 300,000,000 people. Even if the U.S. somehow contributed about half the albums on the list, that would be an average of 1 album per 600,000 people, 10 times the ratio for Iceland.

Til hamingju Iceland, your well-earned certificate is below.



The only non-Björk affiliated Iceland entry belongs to Sigur Rós.220px-ÁgætisByrjunCover

When I listened at home, it didn’t resonate. Setting aside 72 summer minutes for uninterrupted ambiance was trickier than expected.

However, in the background while getting prepped for the semester at school this morning, Ágætis byrjun worked considerably better.

Fittingly, the album name translates to “a good beginning.”

I’m beginning to see this is a good album, in the right listening context.


Today’s 200 words were part of the #200wordchallenge,
happening all this week over at!


From → 1990s

  1. I used to have this CD*, and I loved it. It’s another one gone missing over time. I presume I sold it off in a fit of needing money, but I wish I still had it. They’re definitely an acquired taste, or at least (as you rightly pointed out) music for a time and place. But when you hit it just right, they’re amazing!

    * My memory tells me I got it for cheap. The price sticker said $6.99 or something like that, but when the clerk rang it up, it said $23.99. Of course, he had to give it to me for $7, but he was REALLY unhappy about it.

    • As the customer, I’d be very happy in that transaction, $17 off!
      I saw it at a used CD shop in Kingston selling it for $10 – better than $23.99 at least, but a bit steep if I bought each of the new-to-me 1001 albums at that price!

      • Given how rare it usually is to find their stuff in used shops, $10 is pretty fair!

  2. A band that is slowly but inexorably growing on me. Recently picked up Valtari on vinyl – it’s really rather beautiful. A group worth persevering with, perhaps.

    • My vocabulary continues to grow inexorably thanks to you Bruce, what a fine description that you will undoubtedly see resurface here at some point!

  3. PS. Picked up a copy of your one at a charity shop a month or so back for $2. Gave it to a friend for an ‘intro’ it S R.

  4. Saw them live once and they were shite. That’s my contribution – sorry to be Captain Negative.

    • There’s a great sign in my friend’s classroom about the difference between knowing their shite and knowing they’re shite – sounds like these guys were unfortunately the latter live!

      • They were just kind of wussy and fey and they played for way over an hour second on a bill where i was desperate to see the headliner. Their late arrival at the venue was what was holding everything up too.

        I remember the singer sang into his guitar pick-ups and I vowed that when i was a famous guitarist/vocalist I would never do that. And I haven’t.

      • You’ve gotta keep promises like that, integrity matters!

  5. Your like me Geoff finding tunes to get ready for the work day! Music of any kind is a great way to begin any day…

  6. Incredible album. Definitely needs the right moment to sink it. A very interesting band, too. Everything sung in a ‘fictional’ language (Hopelandic) over slow burning instrumentals. This one’s really quite beautiful.

    • I was going to say, I had no idea what the lyrics were – not sure if anyone besides the singer does if it’s fictional!
      Slow burn sounds like a good way to describe this, I could see this re-entering the rotation while I’m marking tests this semester

      • It’s also a particularly good one for getting lost in when the lights are off and the headphones are on …

  7. The certificate made me LOL. How do you come up with these things? I think one of these days we need to have a look inside Geoff Stephen’s brain, and I bet it will be all gloriously statisticallised (I made it up) and delightful. I’ve heard endless praises of Sigur Ros, but like yourself, I’m yet to warm up to them. One of these days…

    • Haha, thanks Amrita – and statisticallised sounds like a legitimate word to me, a word that might be used by a harmonicist even!
      I can only assume the certificate will help boost the country’s tourism efforts 🙂

      • Sigur Ros are pretty big globally, aren’t they? And then, there’s Bjork. Have you seen the SNL skit on Bjork that Kristen Wiig did, where she was reporting on Iceland. It’s brilliant. There’s even a song about Iceland! Here’s the link:

      • The link says not available in Canada – boourns! I’ll keep my eye open for that clip though, Kristin Wiig is fantastic.

      • I adore her! Especially her stint on SNL. Her Bjork impression is great, and this skit was especially good because she even did a Bjork-inspired song which had the line “Welcome to Iceland, Give us your Eyes”. The SNL channel is problematic that way. Some clips are unavailable in my country too, while others aren’t. I’ll see if I can find a non SNL channel link.

  8. I’m looking forward to this one as I only started to listen to them around 2005 when they released “Takk”. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Anytime Geoff! I think the consensus seems to be that the listening context matters – so as long as you hear it at the right place at the right time, you’ll enjoy!

  9. Tangled Up In Music (by Ovidiu Boar) permalink

    Just saw them live outside my hometown. I thought they were incredible.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 1999 | 1001albumsin10years

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: