Album: Sigur Rós, Von (Smekkleysa)

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The Independent Culture

Reissued for the first time outside of their native Iceland, Von is Sigur Rós's 1997 debut.

It was not, apparently, an immediate success, selling only a few hundred copies, confirming the band's initial dissatisfaction with the way it turned out. And compared to subsequent albums, Von does have a somewhat greyer, more generically post-rock sound about it, with echoes of Pink Floyd leavening the gothic gloom. The ten-minute track "Sigur Rós" opens proceedings with tinkly percussion giving way to cavernous thundercloud noise; it segues imperceptibly into "Dögun", where looming keyboard tones accompany a disembodied, keening vocal, a distant muezzin caterwaul and rainfall. "Hú*Jörð" is more rocky, opening with a steady plod, akin to "Careful with That Axe, Eugene", before burly fuzz-bass lumbers in, triggering a seven-minute series of swellings and subsidings. The ghostly chorale and riffing guitars of "Myrkur", meanwhile, sounds like monks paying tribute to the Velvet Underground. The closest the album comes to their mature sound is when Jónsi Birgisson's characteristic gossamer vocals start to thread their way through the tom-toms and warm tonalities of "Von" itself and over the shifting soundscape of "Syndir Guðs".

Download this: 'Hú*Jorð', 'Von', 'Syndir Guðs', 'Myrkur'