Trackpacking is a recurring series highlighting musicians that inspire me to travel.
I was horribly late to the Sigur Rós bandwagon. When their breakthrough album, Ágætis Byrjun, dropped in 1999 I was too busy listening to Radiohead‘s OK Computer over and over and over again on my Diamond Rio MP3 player (at 60MB, it had just enough memory for the album).
It wasn’t until last year that I really started listening to Sigur Rós in earnest, and I’m happy to say the years of guilt at having ignored them were justified by the first bass line of Olsen Olsen (have a listen to it in Pack These Tracks). Incredible.
So what’s their story? Four guys from preternaturally gorgeous and desolate Iceland banded together beneath the midnight sun to craft some of the most alien and other-worldly sounds this side of Pink Floyd. Jónsi’s falsetto voice hovers over songs and often gibbers in a nonsense language dubbed “Hopelandic.” Don’t sweat it if you can’t understand a thing, neither can Icelanders (or anyone else for that matter).
Perhaps that’s the most striking aspect of their music: intelligible lyrics aren’t necessary to convey the feeling embedded in their songs. While I tend to gravitate toward darker melodies – of which Sigur Rós has its fair share – many of their songs buzz with anthemic vitality; uplifting arrangements soar to cinematic heights and provide a huge scope to their albums; vocals pierce orchestral overtures and bring the whole structure down in a cacophony of drums, cymbals, and strings. It’s a signature sound.
Music like this makes you want to travel to its creators’ homeland in a vain attempt to understand its origins. I can’t think of a better compliment. Given the music’s expansive scope, inherent hopefulness and excitement, and sense of wonder, it’s the perfect accompaniment to travel, and it makes an easy choice for a soundtrack to everything from road trips to train rides to trans-Atlantic flights.
What are you waiting for? Have a listen to the tracks below and hit the road.
Pack These Tracks
- Olsen Olsen, from Ágætis Byrjun.
- Hoppípolla, from Takk….
- Sæglópur, from Takk….
- Hafsól, from Hvarf.
- Inní mér syngur vitleysingur, from Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.
Create a Moment with Sigur Rós
- On a windswept beach, dawn light reaching just over the horizon.
- In the train terminal having a coffee and letting life swirl around you.
- Looking at a world below from spartan mountain passes.
What music moves you? Share it in the comments!