Icelandic angels could be one way to describe this group from Reykjavík. Seven dreamy, ethereal and majestic albums over 22 years, Sigur Ros have defied language barriers to become the most well known Icelandic bands
Forming in 1994, Jonsi, Georg and (former) drummer Agust were said to have taken their name from Jonsi’s younger sister, Sigurros, who was born just before the band began. Sigur and Ros respectively mean ‘Victory’ and ‘Rose’ in Icelandic, although, apparently it’s a grammatical error to put the two together.
It was their 1999 Ágætis byrjun ([ˈau̯cai̯tɪs ˈpɪrjʏn] "A Good Beginning") that set them off on a path of critical acclaim. Their music spread like wildflower worldwide and soon enough they were touring with Radiohead and other big bands of the time. Agust departed around 2001 and was replaced with current member Orri. The band went onto release ( ) in 2002 which was the first album to feature all songs in Vonlenska/Hopelandic, an invented language without semantic meaning in which Jónsi sings before lyrics are written to the vocals. Essentially a form of gibberish vocals that fit to the music and act as another instrument. This language resembles the phonology of the Icelandic language but it has been stated that the listener is supposed to interpret their own meanings of the lyrics. When the band released this album with a blank booklet, they intended for the listener to write in their own interpretation of the lyrics on the blank pages.
For an band whose lyrics are either Icelandic or Hopelandic, they have done extraordinarily well to gain the followers they have globally and attract such an audience. It speaks highly for a band to have such a moving impact on people purely through the music. And they really are moving! Watching their Inni documentary which is a mixture of live footage of a performance in London and random interview clips and you can witness firsthand how they entrap their audience into some sort of cult dream state when playing live. The footage shows people crying, emotionally fixed by the whole experience and even more so emotional for the viewer with the whole documentary shot in black and white.
Don’t write them off as a soft band though, they are quite the creative bunch always doing interesting stuff and getting their hands into all sorts of projects. They’ve made guest appearances in Game of Thrones, had Simpsons characters of themselves and even created custom made “icelandic smelling” wax candles that can be purchased through their merch so you take take Iceland with you wherever you go. These guys are so cool in fact they’ve even converted an old abandoned swimming pool at a NATO tracking base in the northernmost mountain in Iceland into own their own studio, appropriately named Sundlaugin (translates to Swimming Pool in Icelandic).
If I can leave any passing words of wisdom, it would be not to miss these guys when they arrive in Hong Kong for Clockenflap. Be prepared, the guy next to you might be crying and people maybe having some sort of convulsions nearby but ignore everyone else including that Tinder match desperate to meet up and get lost yourself in the whole experience.