Retrospectacle: Agaetis Byrjun.

Picture the scene: my childhood bedroom, circa 1999. A haunting period in my music listening life–compared, say, to the Dark Ages, where information was scarce.

As a result, I listened to (studder, wait for it): Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and the soundtrack to “The Matrix”. These cds still lie in a dusty heap at home, painful reminders that I was never cool. And still not cool since I’m owning to it.

I don’t recall being very angry but I’m pretty sure if you’d have handed me Agaetis Byrjun back then I would have called you lame and said it sends you to sleep. A decade later, I’m still conflicted about my own “lameness” and quite often look forward to an afternoon nap, heck, I’ll take one in the morning if it’s the weekend.

Without any Icelandic knowledge, I can’t comment on the lyrics exactly but I can say if there’s a unifying theme to the music, it’s to be beautiful. I don’t mean that in a “oh, that’s very pleasant” beautiful.

I mean euphoric, brain melting, double rainbow beautiful.

Tracks boast a lush orchestra, seamlessly dovetailing classical instruments with modern effects, feedback and synthesiser. As perhaps one of the most sensual albums I’ve enjoyed, the music tickles, massages, breathes and leaves you floating. Jon Birggrson’s unique vocals shimmer and soar which such angelic feeling they border on sounding inhuman.

Such is the complexity and quality of production of the album, it is my (and many others) go to album for testing out new sound systems. Everyone should lie down, get a nice pair of headphones or a hi-fi and enjoy this album straight through before you die. It might make you believe in heaven.

Listen to: Staraflur

Retrospectacle, a column from contributor Thom Lau, appears on Tuesdays.

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