April 24, 2010

Jónsi, sticks and stones, and flying on the backs of night-black dragons

Last weekend, my charming British friend Paul and I donned those uber-stylish 3D glasses and went to see How To Train Your Dragon, unaccompanied by children of any sort — just two adults at the matinee Sunday showing of an animated 3D film about Vikings (one named “Stoic The Vast,” among other delights), misunderstood youth, and whimsical technicolor dragons that soar and wheel in the sky.

Since my favorite dream will always be the one where I rediscover my latent ability to fly untethered, I was not ashamed to giddily enjoy all the 3D flying sequences on the backs of dragons in this film, over crashing ocean waves and fertile canyons. Speechless at the end, Paul just said it was one of the best movies he’s seen in a long time, and I agreed.

As the credits rolled, my heart flew up and away with the unexpected (but flawlessly placed) music of Sigur Ros frontman Jónsi. It’s a new song called “Sticks and Stones,” and it couldn’t fit the feeling of the film any better.

Sticks and Stones – Jónsi

April 4, 2010

Iceland wins again.


If Sigur Rós albums make me feel like I am in a dream about floating on an iceberg or walking through a frozen black forest, shoes crunching in the snow underfoot, the new Jónsi solo project is that moment when the sun cracks jubilantly across the horizon on some bright Sunday morning.

I’ve spent the last few days streaming his new solo album Go, letting my mind wander to lands I haven’t seen, and my heart twitterpate over dawn returning.

Go Do – Jónsi

Go is out Tuesday on XL Records, and was produced by the formidable Peter Katis (The National, Frightened Rabbit). Jónsi is embarking on a massive tour; I feel pretty certain it would be a transcendent evening of explosive multi-hued jubilance.

[photo credit Lilja and Inga Birgisdottir, Jónsi’s sisters, who also shot the Fanfarlo artwork]

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October 10, 2007

Sigur Ros: new DVD and midnight acoustic set

There’s something otherworldy, icy, and enchanting about Sigur Rós. This collective from Reykjavik, Iceland makes astoundingly rich atmospheric music that lopes and meanders, sounding like it belongs in a dream about floating on an iceberg or walking through a frozen black forest, shoes crunching in the snow underfoot.

They’re really hard to talk about in person for a number of reasons:
1) I’m still not completely sure if Rós is pronounced like the Friends character or the flower, despite being told numerous times by pals
2) my favorite album by them is called ( )
3) they have song titles like Njósnavélin, Með Blóðnasir, and Ágætis Byrjun.

So it’s better to type about them to hide my lack of mad Icelandic skills, plus that way you can give them a listen, even if you think that the description of them doesn’t sound exactly like something you would be into. Give ‘em a chance; I was blown away the first time I did.

Sigur Rós was in NYC this past weekend to screen their new live DVD/companion album Heima (out in November). The film traces the band on a two-week tour of their homeland through “ghost towns, outsider art shrines, national parks, small community halls and the absolute middle-of-nowhere-ness of the highland wilderness,” including the largest gig of their career –and in Icelandic history– at their triumphant homecoming Reykjavik show. Check the trailer:


Their tour page lists upcoming screening dates worldwide; at the New York one they played an acoustic midnight set at the Florence Gould Hall. They performed three songs over a gorgeous twenty minutes, including the new title track for the film.

Listening to studio material from Sigur Rós lets you hear the dense and magical production, but I also really enjoy letting my ears and my imagination experience their ability to spin stories in sound just as effectively in an acoustic setting.

Sigur Rós, midnight acoustic show
Oct 6, 2007 – Florence Gould Hall, NYC
Ágætis Byrjun


[thanks to nyctaper for recording. Photo from this Flickr photo set]

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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