Music is a medium that has, though I am not proficient in any instruments, profoundly influenced and affected me emotionally and artistically. There are few things that I enjoy more than the flood of emotion that comes with a truly incredible song. Out of all the artists that I have ever had the privilege of listening to over my life, there are few more profoundly affecting and wondrous on the ears than Sigur Rós.

Sigur Rós performing live. On the left is lead vocalist Jonsi, who is blind in one eye and openly gay.

Still largely obscure in America, Sigur Rós is a “post-rock” band from Iceland with elements of classical music and minimalist pianism in their music. However, there isn’t really a “genre” that could encapsulate the joy and piety one feels upon hearing their music, which could be described as soul-opening. It is revelatory, it is transcendental, and, most importantly, it is beyond what we typically define as music. The only way for me to prove this to you is to allow you to listen to a song of theirs, and so I’ve provided a link to the song “Fljotavik” below, which you can allow to play while reading the rest of the post:

Click here to listen to “Fljotavik” on YouTube.

What you’ll notice is that the lyrics are not in English; Sigur Rós is an Icelandic band and all their song lyrics are either in Icelandic or a variant of gibberish that the lead singer, Jonsi, created for the purposes of the music (dubbed “Hopelandic” by fans). However, this does not detract in any way whatsoever  from the profundity of the music: simply stop trying to understand what the song isabout and let it sink into and over you. I can assure you that the lyrics, when translated from Icelandic, have no complex meaning, and simply invoke very elementary images and phrases. The band members are all highly talented on their respective instruments (especially Jonsi, with his unbelievable angelic voice), but it is the union of  the elements that brings about the elusive, holistic magic of Sigur Rós’s music: one can listen to “Fljotavik” and feel as if one is at the top of a mountain, or watching the last embers of a fire die. I know that when I listen I remember the good times I have had with my friends and the memories I will continue to make with them. But that is the wonderful thing about the shapeless and heavenly music of Sigur Rós: it is whatever you make it. Whatever it is, though, it is greater than the sum of the four band members and their instruments, and it is a gateway into some sort of emotional or existential realization, I hope. One can derive true enlightenment from these songs … I encourage you to open your mind and give the band a listen.


Some recommended songs:

“Saeglopur” … “Godan Daginn” … “Samskeyti (aka Untitled 3)” … “Hoppipola” … “Njosnavelin (aka Untitled 4”) … “Ara Batur” …

3 thoughts on “Music: Sigur Rós

  1. the music can sound beautiful, but the fact remains that some of the beauty is lost when the listener is unable to understand the words. part of the power of music is the lyrics. without that, true appreciation for the music is missing

    1. That’s a fair contention but I would maintain that meaning or beauty is very subjective especially in music, and while listening to Sigur Ros I’ve definitely constructed my own meaning. True, it’s a different kind of meaning, but meaning, and beauty subsequently, nonetheless.

    2. I tend not to get caught up in the meaning of the lyrics when listening to Sigur Ros. The vocals, when not in English, which in some songs they do sing in, are just another instrument to me, a vocalization. This may not be beauty to you, but music doesn’t always have to have lyrics; this is just another form of beauty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.