‘Jónsi’ – “Go”

I almost forgot it was Friday: midst the two-hour Philosophy Tutorial, not to mention the mind-mushing experience on the train back home – which usually leaves me slightly dazed, from time to time. I just start to forget things; abruptly remembering it out of sequence, triggered by some insignificant event. It’s just hard to pick myself up on a Friday, I suppose…

I “tweeted” [what funny terminology] last week that I was thoroughly enjoying an album called “Go”. I found out from some second-hand sources that “Jón Thor [wish-my-middle-name-was-as-cool-as-that… *huff*] Birgisson” had released a side-project from his main-affiliate Icelandic-band ‘Sigur Rós’; particularly surprised – seeing as rumors of a new ‘Sigur Rós’ album have been floating about, recently – I thought, to suffice my appetite, I’d take a crack. I’ve had some – well, for use of a better euphemism – “history” concerning ‘side-projects’ in general. But I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised…

“Go” will literally blow you away:

'Jonsi' - "Go"

'Jónsi' - "Go"

I feel it’s appropriate to state this simple, underlying fact: I bought the album before writing this review. I didn’t listen to it with any ounce of skepticism, nor with any hint of criticism; I merely opened my ears, closed my mind, and let the music make itself at home. And this – predominantly because “Go” is a side-project – I find unbelievable. ‘Jón’ is dismembered from ‘Sigur Rós’ completely, with this being his first solo debut – according to the homepage, that is. And I think you’ll be delightfully surprised to find that “Go” isn’t wholly dissimilar from anything ‘Sigur Rós’ have been pumping out prior; ‘Jón’ [God, I wish I had a keyboard with accented-keys!] brings onboard the typical vocalisation you can expect to see from “Takk”, to “(_)”. But it’s the style of music surrounding ‘Jón’ which is significantly altered – and I hope, to the die-hard ‘Sigur Rós’ fan – not overly disfigured.

But before I delve deeper into “Go”, I’d like to announce the fact that side-projects – from prior experience, and my previous perspective – are deviations from the main band itself, and I have, in the past, criticised these ‘splitters’. Like ‘Paul Banks’ – for going off to do these instead of directing important focus [where it’s needed, because “Antics” wasn’t great and “Our Love To Admire” didn’t quite resonate like their debut]. It seems if you’ve got all your eggs in one basket – well, heck! That basket’s gonna make a helluva’ omelette. When it comes to music: there’s no sense divvying them up. But then, when I think of a few other side-projects, they sound as if they had been a band all along to begin with; so too with “Go”.

At around forty-minutes, “Go” is exceptionally short – you can feel it, there’s nothing deceptively-long about it. But then, for “promotional” purposes, I understand where they’re coming from: and I understand why there’s this sudden revival of vinyl, because, well, vinyl is a very desirable format – despite what I may have thought when I wrote my Musings-post on its death. Its resurgence has led some people – particularly fans and collectors – to opt for the LP-format in favour of the trusty-CD [well, they’re not very ‘trusty’ if they wipe after twenty-years {apparently}, are they? Figure-of-speech] because – finally – some folks are catching on to the accompanying memorabilia.

“Ha-ha! Success!” – go the LP nuts, “victory is at hand!”

Forty-minutes, you see, is about the standard length for an LP [double-sided, I presume]. So! Are bands secretly delivering less so that they can paradoxically deliver more? Ahh, the inconsistencies of life, the universe and everything. The same can be said for albums like “XX” from “The XX” – another short album [also in LP format]. Hmm – conspiracy, me thinks?

I love that solid hour from an album – the band’s gone to some extra-effort, perhaps, a few more songs, or longer songs, or whatever. “Go’s” length is nothing to get harpy about, I suppose – the one, and probably only, feature that it lacks in. Other than that, some soyperb stuff happening here.

I feel obliged to say that “Go” can be comparably similar to Sigur Rós’; if you listen, if you look for it, you’ll find it. But I think “Go” is considerably more upbeat at times, reminiscent – although by no means – of a pop album. I’ll draw some parallels between bands like ‘Passion Pit’. ‘Jón’ has this strikingly-high voice, almost feminine in some respects, and this contrasts the deep despondency of ‘Sigur Rós’ wonderfully. But when he is set against something as optimistic “Go” can be sometimes, I feel another “Manners” coming on. But I don’t think it’s entirely fair to rate “Go” against something as profound, and as eloquent, as “Takk” – ‘Sigur Rós’ have a unique ability to make each and every album different, yet the same, each with their own consistent flavour. “Go” is just another branch on the tree…

Expect to find a wide-array of instrumentation, both acoustic and electric. “Go” does not dispense with everything Sigur Rós’ related – it does have these complex soundscapes, but they are occasionally overshadowed by a pop-like chorus in one song which is absent in the next. I can’t find fault with any one song, at all – they’re flawless, in my opinion. Like “Takk” or even “(_)”, “Go’s” tracks can be heard individually, it’s just more entertaining to listen to the album as a whole, with its other tracks providing musical context.

“Go Do” opens for “Go”, and the leading-flute in this track is particularly attractive; it’s really the first duet I’ve found between this instrument and percussion, which both struggle for lead. When ‘Jónsi’ finally jumps in there, it’s a real treat to hear lyrics in English; it’ll take some getting used-to. Previously, I’ve found his native-language very relaxing, almost hypnotic, and it has worked so well with Sigur Rós’ in the past that it’s a delightful surprise to find lyrics in a format I can understand. Occasionally he dips back into Icelandic within the album – although I cannot cement this fact, I might just not be able to hear his English well-enough.

“Tornado” is track-three, and it’s probably my favourite off the whole album. A simplistic set of chords from a piano introduce us to “Tornado” with memorable lyrics:

“… You grow, you grow like tornado…

You grow from the inside…

Destroy everything through…

Destroy from the inside…

Erupt like volcano…

You flow from the inside…

You kill everything through…

You kill from the inside.*”

The animalistic howling of ‘Jónsi’ with his enunciation of the word “you”, is haunting and ethereal, offset by the steady thump of percussion and the swaying string; one of the darker tracks off “Go”. But, I think I’ll stop it there. I could literally write down my opinion – my awe – of each and every track, because I really do enjoy them; hence the purchase. I’ll leave a lot to be desired, so you [hopefully] arrive at the same conclusion that I have: epic. It’s the first for the year, and I’m not going to hesitate anymore – feels good to listen-to, feels good to write.

Reviewers Pick: “Tornado”

Stand-out Tracks: “Go Do”, “Tornado”, “Kolnidur”, “Hengilas”

Rating: 5/5

Until when,

The Enantiomorphic God

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~ by enantiomorphicgod on April 23, 2010.

One Response to “‘Jónsi’ – “Go””

  1. […] the perfect opt for vinyl format: it’s frustrating for myself, and I understand why [read 'Jonsi' – "Go" for further details], but “Swim” is still deceptively long. I use this word […]

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