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Jonsi - Sigur Ros "centre forward" plays a blinder
on 2 April 2010
What a fabulous album. Sigur Rós' frontman Jónsi Birgisson's solo album titled "Go" consists of symphonic electronic music and is surprisingly pop orientated in places, and what's wrong with that? His recent cover of MGMTs "Time to Pretend" was a revelation and showcases his voice touched by his Icelandic accent and with beautiful depth. It points to to some of the work on here with his vocals at the forefront but of course echoes of the "mothership" Sigur Ros also abound. Indeed it is a hybrid made in heaven containing Jonsi's desire to carve a new path but building on the foundations of the best of what has gone before. Indeed the new found freedom allows him to reinvent himself something which Sigur Ros for all their sheer brilliance have generally avoided embracing instead redefinition and preferring more incremental progression.
Start at the most radical departure which is "Boy Lilikoi". Gentle waves of warm synths tinkle in the background and then a joyous vocal follows from Birgisson that is so sweet that it could almost be a Scritti Politti song. Likewise the albums opener "Go do" is all fluttering flutes and bouncing rhythms which build up to a remarkable noise and has the word "single" stamped all over it. Animal Arithmetic on times sounds like euro disco but it is excellent, madly danceable and with enough twists and turns to give your speakers multiple identity problems. "Tornado" alternatively is a darker and fuller beast for which you must employ the overused word "epic", as Jonsi sings "You grow like tornado, you grow from the inside, destroy everything"
The album in its second half moves into more familiar Sigur Ros territory and again works so well he ought to patent this music. Inevitably you are drawn to the final three tracks the hugely euphoric "Around Us" in effect ends the pop music and the choral beauty and glacial clarity of Sigur Ros becomes apparent. The slow, crystal like beauty that unfolds around that angelic vocal are accompanied by overlays of snow drop synths on "Grow till tall" which are testament to Jonsi's work with composer Nico Muhly. It has the same kind of otherworldly effect as Radiohead's "Motion Picture Soundtrack" and is a towering highlight. Why then not follow it with yet another one which Jonsi does immediately in the form of "Heniglas" with its huge backdrop of tearful cellos. Having already mentioned soundtracks producers will flock to have this song as a part of their project. Sigur Ros's composition "Hoppipolla" has been a staple of programmes by the "latter day Saint" Sir David Attenborough, it also increasingly used to underpin great sporting moments. It now has a rival since "Heniglas" deserves the visual imagery of a "Planet Earth" quality context where we can be rendered speechless by both the splendour of all the aesthetic and orchestral beauty.
Giving out 5 stars sometimes brings on bouts of guilt. Are your impressions wrong, will the album grow or fizzle out and what if no one else likes it? Frankly who cares, "Go" is immense and fit to burst with sounds that make the world that bit better/brighter and is the reason why Baz Luhrmann once stated that "music is there for when words fail us".