Advancing the argument that some of the strangest music on the planet is made in Iceland, Reykjavik quartet Sigur Rós have touched down with one of the most perplexing and fascinating records of the year.
Agaetis Byrjun -- which translates as "a fresh start" -- certainly doesn't have many obvious reference points. There are elements of orchestral space rock and Cocteau Twins ambience, heavy on the strings and whooshing guitars and with faraway vocals whispered in garbled Icelandic. Often, the music is stripped down to just a beautiful piano or cello line, and the sounds occasionally vanish completely.
With songs rarely coming in under seven minutes, Agaetis Byrjun does move at a glacial pace, but it's never sluggish. It is, however, the kind of record that can immediately change the mood of the room you're in. Approach with caution or, at the very least, headphones. MG