6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Vonbrigdi is Icelandic for disappointment, which couldn't be further from the truth...,
This review is from: Von Brigdi (Audio CD)
To ardent fans of bands, remix albums present an awkward conundrum. Usually drawing upon much-loved and lauded original material, the obscure laptop-types come in, sometimes converting masterpieces into abhorrent noise (see Raz Mesinai's mangling of the epic, genre defining Com? On Mono's remix album 'New York Soundtracks') and sometimes producing sublime extensions and reappraisals of the originals (see JK Broadrick's brilliant treatment of Hym on Isis' 'Oceanic: Remixes and Reinterpretations').
And so to Von Brigdi - a leftfield electronica remake of leftfield electronica; you could be forgiven for thinking that it would be a combination with absolutely no chance of success. The original Von was a sprawling piece of minimalism, the lush swathes of strings and bowed guitars that have become so synonymous with Sigur Rós appearing only in small patches amidst laid back loops and barren synth soundscapes. The record owed more to avant-garde luminaries Stars of the Lid and Brian Eno than people approaching their early work retrospectively might expect. Most remixes seem to dismantle songs, and rebuild them again as mere spectres of the originals. Starting with songs of such fragile ambience, that rely on subtle nuance and in places silence, it seemed an obvious problem to me that this album would be nothing more than a series of quirky pieces of programming. It seems irrelevant to point out that in fact, Von is quite easily Sigur Rós' second best album behind ( ) - (which critics described as difficult! Pah!), especially if like me you dislike the more mainstream facets of Agętis Byrjun and recent pop-fest Takk...
But remarkably Von Brigdi is fantastic. Instead of messing around with acres of white-noise and samples, the artists behind the remixes have condensed the original material of Von to wonderful effect - only two of the tracks here stray beyond the 6 minute mark in total contrast to Von itself.
Many of the names making remixes for this album are decent artists in their own right, and as you would expect the quality is high throughout therefore. Ilo, Múm and GusGus are all signed to the now famous (and inaccurately named) Bad Taste label that first signed Sigur Rós. Both versions of 'Myrkur' are excellent, and different enough from each other to keep it interesting as are the two versions of 'Syndir Gušs' that open the album. If there are any criticisms to be made, it is just that the album isn't that cohesive, especially evidenced by the fact that nobody has been bothered to sequence the tracks properly - lumping the two versions of 'Myrkur' and 'Syndir Gušs' next to each other. However as a remix album, that is something that can hardly be expected.
The standout track is the album's final track, a expansion the band themselves made of 'Leit aš Lífi.' Skittish beats that sound like they belong on an Aphex Twin album and a super bassline that could be Rothko plodding away, are combined with Jónsi's beautiful falsetto. It really is top notch. So go on, throw out your copy of Takk... Instead buy this and the original Von, and get into the first chapter in the career of this brilliant band. Combining far more genres than future releases have dared, and using some dark themes and imagery that have since been tempered, the Von albums are definitely deserving of your time.